FRAG – Episode 2 New Release

Download the new and improved version of Frag Episode 2 TNT here

Improvements:
– The entire book has been reformatted from a .docx base to an .odt one. This has also solved the problems with “missing” table borders.
– Fixed the formatting, characteristics and point values in the Ebihara Group army list.
– Several erroneous references to previous draft rules removed (e.g. the Okuplok being referred to as the Mammoth tank, and the “Reincarnation” rule, and the Raikou tank’s faulty description).

The change list small, but it’s been a hugely needed clean up. Re-doing the book has also been very helpful in laying down the foundation for Episode 3.

Slow Return To Work

2021 was an extremely busy year for me (as I’m sure it was for many, but bear with me); last year I bought a home and welcome my daughter into the world. Unfortunately, she decided to arrive significantly earlier than expected, so it was a very busy and stressful time to say the least.

As a result, projects have progressed very slowly and I’ve not written any reviews or articles. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me during this time, it meant a lot.

Over the next few months, I intend to publish articles again covering topics. The home move has seriously disrupted 3d printing but that is slowly restarting. I’ve also been asked to work on something for a local game store, which is now getting released into the wild so I can talk about it. There are also some manufacturers and rulesets that I’d itching to write about.

The Heretic Mod

I’ve been tinkering with ZDoom for years. After taking part in HUMP, I wanted to make more Heretic levels but wasn’t happy with the limited texture variety and enemy roster. I started making little edits to Heretic and trying to create a ‘toolset’ that would allow me to build maps without any of the issues that people have with Heretic. It started off with adding textures from Hexen, then tweaks to the monsters… very slowly it turned into an actual mod. I’ve started and stopped mapping for Heretic a few times, never happy with the designs I’ve come up with. It looked like the most recent map was going to go the same way, but I’ve turned it around and managed to tweak the layout into something I’m happy with. I’ve also locked down the features I want in the mod, making it officially a mod and not a universal toolset for Heretic mapping.

There is a new player character and I’ve gone through a few designs. First was a grouchy but good-hearted witch, then a powerful half-demon sorceress, but the current design is an older and more sinister witch.

What’s Changed?

Player

  • The player is now a new character (the grand witch) with new graphics and sounds

Health & Armour

  • Armour system changed to match Doom (less generous than Heretic; 33%/50% damage resistance)
  • Added Life Sphere (+100HP up to 200HP, instant use powerup)
  • Replaced Enchanted Shield with Amulet of Warding (200% armour, same effects as Mega Armour)
  • Added herbs (+1HP pickups, heals up to 200HP)
  • Replaced Quartz Flask with large health potions (+25hp, instant use)

Weapons & Ammo

  • Staff has been replaced with a short ranged “Zap!” attack
  • Tome of Power turns zap red and does more damage
  • Amber wand replaced with the lavender staff (100% accuracy, but fires a fast projectile instead of a hit scan attack)
  • Large dragon claw pickups give more ammo
  • Ammo maximums have been increased for some weapons (dragon claw, firemace)
  • The hellstaff projectile is now 33% smaller
  • The firemace always spawns
  • The empowered firemace has been replaced. It now fires a triple shot at no extra ammo cost.
  • Dragon claw graphic and sounds have been replaced
  • Incorporated the fixed firemace graphics from the Heretic minor sprite fixing project

Power-Ups & Inventory

  • Added lore items which shed more light on the story when they are picked up
  • Quartz Flasks have been replaced with instant use large health potions
  • Morph Ovum has been replaced with Dog Mode
  • Chaos Device replaced with Boots of Protection (Rad Suit)
  • Time Bomb of the Ancients replaced with a much more effective Poison Flechette
  • Life Sphere replaces the Mystic Urn (same effects as Soul Sphere)
  • Flight, invulnerability, dog mode, invisibility, large health potions and Life Sphere are instant use power ups (Map, backpack, torch, tome of power are unaffected)
  • New graphics for Flight and Invulnerability power-ups (all instant use power-ups are now held in orbs/spheres)
  • Only one torch, tome of power, or boots power-up can be held at any time. Up to 20 flechettes can be held.

Monsters

  • All non-boss enemies from Heretic can now be resurrected
  • All non-boss enemies from Heretic except the Weredragon have had their HP reduced by 10%-25%
  • The Weredragon’s attack now takes an two extra tics (reducing attack speed by 20%)
  • Replaced ImpLeader and MummyLeader with Black Imp and Hobgoblin (same concept, new graphics and sounds)
  • The Iron Lich no longer summons tornedos but gains a spirit summoning attack.
  • New Monster: Cultist (weak human, fires projectiles and drops wand ammo)
  • New Monster: Knight Archer (slightly less weak human, fires projectiles and drops crossbow ammo)
  • New Monster: Bloodclaw (stronger and faster version of the Saberclaw)
  • New Monster: Demon Prince (acts similar to a Cyberdemon)
  • New Monster: Tall Man (fast stealth monster, fires rapid fire projectiles and occasionally resurrects monsters)
  • New Monster: Bloodied Lich (resurrects enemies and performs an Arch-Vile attack; has less HP than an Arch-Vile but releases a hostile ghost on death)
  • Added Reiver from Hexen (slightly modified, no vampiric melee attack)
  • Added Wendigo from Hexen
  • Added Ettin from Hexen
  • Added Chaos Serpent from Hexen (10% size increase and slight increase in HP)
  • Added Slaughtaur from Hexen (more aggressive AI, lower HP and significantly reduced shield time)
  • Blood Claw, Reiver, Ettin, Chaos Serpent, and Slaughtaur can be resurrected (but not Tall Man, Bloodied Lich or Demon Prince)
  • Added pigs and chickens as NPCs. They don’t do anything.
  • Monsters no longer drop items except for the Cultist and Knight enemies.

Maps

  • There is currently one map (E1M1) but the plan is to release 20 maps in four or five mini-episodes set in new locations.

List of Current Projects

The updates to this blog are hardly thick and fast nowadays. Unfortunately, that’s due to two issues: (1) a promotion at work and (2) being a key worker during a global pandemic. The overtime has been particularly extreme over the summer.

However, I’ve still been working on things (even if progress hasn’t been great, as I only have a couple hours each evening at best). Here’s what’s in the pipeline:

Rulebooks

  • I’ve cleaned up Warzone Abridged, rewriting some rules to be easier to understand, adding rules for terrain (using material from Warzone 1st Edition, Warzone 2nd Edition, Dark Eden and Chronopia) and am currently in the process of combining it with the expansion book End of Days. This new edition is unimaginatively titled Warzone Abridged V2. The new rules are all written, but considerable layout work is needed on the combined army lists.
  • Frag has been tweaked and tidied up, and Episode 2 is almost done. Some layout work is needed, fluff pieces need to be written, and the extensive unique character chapter needs another balance check. Rather than releasing episodes, I am considering merging the two books similar to Warzone Abridged V2.
  • I’ve adapted Frag into a fantasy warband game, similar to Age of Sigmar or Chronopia, but only as a proof of concept. The core rules and an extensive elf army list have been finished, and no further work is planned for the near future. I’ll put up an upload of this soon.

Videogames

  • I’ve finished the groundwork for a Heretic megawad / mod. There’s been plenty of modifications to the base game (weapon replacements, new enemies, item replacements, item re-balancing, new power-ups, new special effects, etc…) and the next step is to start creating some impressive levels to go with all the changes.

3D printing and Miniatures

  • I have two 3D printers, a resin (Elegoo Mars) and an FDM (Ender 3) which I’m using to print miniatures and terrain.
  • I am switching over to 15mm scale figures for most of my gaming projects, and I have a couple new 15mm platoons fully painted. I’ve had very positive experiences with several 15mm manufacturers, particularly Ground Zero Games and Brigade Models.

In addition to the above, I’ve continued collecting rulebooks and reading up on new developments in the Doom, 3d printing and tabletop communities.

Crusty Contrast Experiment

Lately I’ve been really enjoying 15mm. I have assembled a lot of sci-fi in that scale recently and I have Darghaur (sold by Ground Zero Games) and some Critical Mass Protolene (sold by Ral Partha Europe) finished. The Crusties are another alien race to add to the pile. The difference this time is that instead of a platoon I have a whole company to paint.

I bought some contrast paints to experiment with, and tried them out on some 15mm Crusties from Ground Zero Games. I sprayed them white, painted them with GW’s yellow contrast paint, and painted the guns and leather straps. Finally, I gave them a simple brown wash.

The results are… passable. They took mere minutes to paint, and I have 80+ more of these to to complete so it looks like the method I’ll be going with.

Ground Zero Games are excellent by the way. Definitely recommend them if you want to try 15mm.

Amid Evil

On 20th June, Amid Evil left early access. I’ve owned it for a while, but not played past Episode 4 (of 7).

I have really enjoyed my time playing Amid Evil, but it hasn’t grabbed me as hard as DUSK did. Something about the combat in DUSK feels more polished, and I find the pseudo-realistic level design and atmosphere a little more immersive.

However, it’s still a great retro-FPS throwback. Seven episodes with four levels each, with gameplay that is reminiscent of Heretic. Some of the level design looks absolutely gorgeous, and the designer clearly had fun making crazy patterns in the level editor.

I think Amid Evil is a worth looking at.

The trailer is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBlTTW3RRtw

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Welcome to the Nephrite Blog

Nephrite Games is ran by Rolo, a guy who enjoys tabletop and classic computer games. This blog is mainly about my own personal projects, but I also post information about upcoming wargaming releases and news from within the retro-gaming community.

Current Major Project: FRAG
FRAG is a tabletop battle game in a dark universe inspired by 90s first person shooters. The latest version is available here.

FRAG Episode 2 – The New Technology
FRAG Episode 2 has been released. This expansion book introduces armoured vehicles, new traits, new units, and three brand new factions to the world of FRAG. You can get the latest release here (new release as of 27/02/2022).

Other recent projects
Warzone Abridged (Rewrite of Warzone tabletop game)
Warzone Abridged: End of Days (Expansion Book for Warzone)
Tomorrow’s War Army List Booklet (Army list booklet for Tomorrow’s War)

I’ve temporarily disabled my Patreon – I have been extremely busy at work this year and can’t guarantee regular updates during the current situation. Feedback and tips are still very much appreciated.

Always Bet on Duke 3D

I spent a few hours writing up a detailed analysis of this game but I think it’s way better if I just say this is what I’ve been playing lately.

Despite some baffling monster placement in later levels and hitscan heavy gameplay at odds with modern Duke’s macho image, D3D’s mechanics remain solid and the huge arsenal of weapons is just as satisfying today as it was twenty years ago.

Sick Day

I’ve been sick today, but that gave me time to be a manchild and have some guilt-free hobby time.

Things I did:
– Played High Noon Drifter + Doom 2 Japanese Community Pack
– Worked on my Quake-themed megawad for Doom, recording some bugs and just generally realizing how messed up the lighting is in the latest gzdoom engine. Lots to update.
 – Rewrote parts of FRAG, fixing typos, tweaking army lists, added some hero characters, changed up the action economy.

This activity might not have been the best idea, as it left me feeling pretty queasy. I’ll be napping the rest of the day I think.