The Black Orifice

Tabletop gaming resources and events from grumpy old games designers, Ben Redmond and Nigel McClelland

Welcome to
the Black Orifice

Welcome to the Black Orifice, the online home of grumpy old games designers Ben Redmond and Nigel McClelland. After having set up Malladin's Gate Press during the D20 bubble and self-published many excellent roleplaying supplements, we created our masterpiece, Etherscope. It was nominated for several awards but the whole process knocked most of our creative energies out of us, so now we bide our time playing games, writing odd little bits, the occasional bit of freelancing, and organising events for our favourite games.

This site will provide you with news of our work and events, reviews and much of our hobby writing available for free download. We're not promising a rapid outpouring of new material, but when we produce something we will try and get it up here in some form.

Fillet Stake - getting the most out of the new butchers captain

Posted Mon 11-Apr-2016

So, with the card for the new Butcher's captain, Fillet, having been spoiled, people up and down the country have been trying her out, and as a die-hard Butchers player, I have been no different...

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The Messenger's Guild - exploring game design in Guild Ball

Posted Sun 03-Apr-2016

Guild Ball is an excellently designed game, and with this post I spend some time looking with my game designer's hat on at the intricacies of mechanics design within Guild Ball as I put together and refine my own fan guild.

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The Guild Ball Rankings and What They Can Tell You

Posted Fri 18-Mar-2016

The Guild Ball rankings system I create has been up and running for a while now, and with the introduction of a new feature that lets you filter the guild summary table by player win ratio, I thought I might take the opportunity to put together a blog post about it all to provide some insight into what this data means.

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Guild Ball: A Roleplaying Inspiration

Posted Fri 5-Jun-2015

guildball logo

Guildball - Football with knifes and axes in a world inspired by the Lies of Locke Lamora and Gangs of New York. How could I resist a game with a pitch like that? Intrigued I downloaded the rules ad was instantly hooked. The artwork is beautiful, the mechanics smooth and flavourful, and it has much more tactical depth than most skirmish-level miniatures games I have encountered. But it's the setting that's really caught my attention. So much so that I've gone an scrapped together some quick rules so that I can play an RPG in the world.

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Homebrewing for D&D

Posted Sun 8-Mar-2015

Eiocha Map, click to enlarge

For my Birthday in January I got the latest version of Dungeons and Dragons – the game that started my life in gaming thirty years ago. I’d already been running a game of it for the student gaming group at school using the freebie basic rules you can download from the website, and had been thinking it would be a great game for my regular group. We’d just started a game of Dark Heresy (trying out the second edition, which is great btw!) so there would be a couple of months before we’d be able to play D&D. I’d already (for my school group) been thinking I’d like to spend a bit of time developing a homebrewed fantasy setting for the new edition. I struck upon the idea of creating the setting together. Inspired by boardgames such as History of the World, Civilisation and Small World, I put together a simple narrative system for developing the history of a fantasy world in a series of “Ages” (very Tolkienesque, I know) and we began to send around emails to start to create our setting.

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