Author Archive

Battleground Interview with Bruce Cordell

“From the Dawn of the Far Realms to the Ninth World, A Billion Year Journey for Newest Member of Monte Cook Games”

Interview by Alfred O. Cloutier


Battleground Games: Bruce, I had a raft of questions based on D&D, but now I’m not sure you can answer them.


Bruce R. Cordell: Hi Alfred! Thanks for your interest in what I’m up to. Who am I? Well, I’m Bruce Cordell. a game designer and novel author. I’ve got over 100 products to my name, several of which won awards, and not a few novels, some of which people really enjoyed. Or so they tell me :-).


BG: Regarding your recent signing with Monte Cook Games (MCG), who approached whom? Did you seek the position there, or did Monte come to you? If he came to you, what was his pitch, and how hard did he have to work to get to to sign?


BRC: After I left Wizards, several people approached me with offers of work. MCG’s was the most interesting, and I was happy to come on board and join my friends Monte, Shanna, Charles, and Tammie.


BG: I’m reading the press release at MCG about your joining, and it mentions that you were an “Advanced” Game Designer at Wizards. This sounds very much like you had levels, how many xps did you have at WoTC? Did they carry over to the new company?


BRC: I was a 13th level Master of Winter, of course. Quitting Wizards and then later accepting the MCG offer gave me enough XP to jump out the level system entirely. Now I’m an intrepid dreamer who forges worlds by minds alone (whichs probably makes more sense if you’re familiar with Numenera character creation. The video at offers a nice overview).


BG: I personally love the descriptions of Numenera I’ve read, it points to a place I’ve been looking for creatively for a long time. It is, however, *science* fantasy. Will it do as well as a pure fantasy world might? Is it a risk to take on this genre?


BRC: A risk compared to continue doing the same thing I’d been doing for the last 18 years? No, working with MCG represents the opposite I think. Sometimes you’ve got to shake the dust off and try something new. And truth to tell, science fantasy is something I prefer far more than straight fantasy; I’m more of a science fiction reader than someone who prefers fantasy.


BG: Numenera reminds me superficially of Gene Wolfe’s “Book of the New Sun.” Is this an apt comparison? What are the differences? Are there other stories from which Numenera borrows?


BRC: That is an apt comparison. I think that’s a better question for Monte and Shanna, but Numenera also reminds me of books like A World Out of Time by Larry Niven, The Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, and Dust by Elizabeth Bear.


BG: According to the singularitarians, such as Ray Kurzweil, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and Verner Vinge, we won’t have a billion years before artificial intelligence becomes super-advanced and changes humanity’s modes of existence forever. How does Numenera address this?


BRC: I imagine a few of the previous civilizations that rose and fell on Earth were forged by AIs, any one of which may have lasted 10 million years or more. But they fell too. Over the deep time of a BILLION years, it’s hard for anything to last. The Ninth World is built on the bones of all those previous worlds.


BG: I am very fascinated by the idea of brainstorming, or idea generation, and I’m guessing that you attend these kinds of sessions regularly, is that true?  What is this process like? Are there “rules” (such as the classic openIDEO brainstorming rules)?


BRC: I’m a fan of brainstorming sessions where someone has already thought about the issue to be discussed, and can guide the direction of new ideas. I’ve been in a few brainstorming meetings with a lot of oars in the water, which just spun the boat in circles. That’s usually the result of meetings with 2 or 3 too many people involved. I’ve also been in probably hundreds of fabulous brainstorming sessions. Most of those either had the ingredient I first named (pre-thought), or just 3 people pitching ideas.


BG: Is there someone you can name, a designer/developer that generates a lot of ideas, or a lot of crazy and cool ideas for the industry, or for a particular game?


BRC: Most of the people I’ve had the pleasure to work with do that every day :-).


BG: I’ve always had this acute awareness–when I’m Game Mastering, and because of the GM screen–that the game could very easily become “non-ruled,” or to put it another way, just completely taken over by the GM’s mind. I’m acutely aware of this when a player at the game store, after the session is over, is taunting the GM with how powerful his character is. I think “doesn’t this player realize the GM has all the power, if he wished to take it?” Is this something you’ve wrestled with as a designer? Is it something that is directly addressed in your design philosophy?


BRC: An aspect of of 3.5/Pathfinder and 4th edition D&D is that they’re designed to be engines so robust that a GM is hardly needed. That has several long term undesirable effects, at least from my perspective: game mechanics become as important as the story, player abilities become overly complex and hard to parse even for long-time players, and the GM feels his or her options are limited. I much prefer a game where the rules are NOT the main course but rather just one INGREDIENT that the GM uses to craft the main course. As you may have noticed, the game system Numenera uses follows my preferred design philosophy 🙂


BG: I wonder if my non-rules awareness actually grew from my eventual mastery of certain game systems. As a Game Master, I felt I had a good answer for most scenarios. With all the playtesting you do, and changes to the play systems you work on, do you find it difficult to achieve this level of mastery?


BRC: As a professional game designer, my full time job is to master different game systems, so not really.


BG: What are you currently reading?


BRC: Elizabeth Bear’s Shoggoth’s In Bloom, Linda Nagata’s Vast, Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, and Miyazaki’s Nausicaa Valley Of the Wind compiled set.


BG: Stephen King writes–I’m paraphrasing here–that idea generation is fairly random, it is the ability to identify the collision of ideas in one’s mind as a viable story, or seed of a story. Have you had any memorable “collisions” that led to interesting plots, or mechanical ideas?


BRC: I rely on that collision. New ideas only come through synthesis. Your brain only has available to it what it’s previously experienced. It’s putting those things together in new ways that creates new ideas and insights. So it’s important to always be putting more things in your brain if you want to stay creative.


BG: Do you retain the copyright to some of the worlds you’ve created for the D&D multiverse? Will you be able to go back and create an ultimate timeline or story that ties all of the fantastic events and scenarios you’ve created into a unified piece? Will you be able to show that all the D&D universes are just the troubled dream of an Old One?


BRC: Wizards of the Coast owns the copyright for almost all the work I’ve done over the last 18 years, save for a few d20 projects I did. However, I do continue to earn royalties on my nine novels. So, if you’re seeing this, dearest interview reader, go out there and give me some love ;-). I suggest you start with Sword of the Gods!


BG: I’ve read that you were a wrestler in school, and practiced Jeet Kune Do afterward. How does being a martial arts practitioner inform or enrich your writing?


BRC: Depends on the book. In the past, it informed what I wrote a LOT, especially when I wrote the Abolethic Sovereignty novel trilogy, where the main character Raidon Kane was a monk. Honestly though, the biggest issue with a martial artist writing fiction is the tendency to focus too much on the technique and not enough on the story.


BG: In the age of Mixed Martial Arts (UFC/cage-fighting), do you think JKD is a strong martial arts school?


BRC: I practiced Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiujitsu a lot more than JKD, actually. (I have a level 8 certification in Muay Thai, and for a while I was instructing Jiujitsu as the school where I attend. That said, I must admit I’m doing a lot less Muay Thai and all the rest these days, due to time commitments required.)


BG: I personally had the most memorable adventures as a player using the 2nd Edition rules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but I really liked DMing 3.5. Which is your favorite iteration of D&D? As a player? as a DM?


BRC: 2nd edition brought me in on the game design side of things, and the wide open rules of that edition allowed me to write some of my most remembered adventures, including Gates of Firestorm Peak and Return to the Tomb of Horrors. That said, 3rd edition was the D&D renaissance, and I also had many successes, like Sunless Citadel, the Expanded Psionics Handbook, and Libris Mortis. For me, 4th edition offered fewer triumphs, though Gamma World was a standout (we used a simplified version of the 4th Edition rules as our basis). As a player, I’ve enjoyed games using 1st (my first edition), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and Next rulesets almost equally.


BG: What are you most excited about for the next edition of D&D?


BRC: Renewing interest in the tabletop game industry.


BG: What was your role in the creation of the next version of Dungeons & Dragons?


BRC: I was one of the designers.


BG: Whose idea was it to release the playtesting materials for D&D Next? Who wanted the next version of the game to have extensive playtesting by the general public?


BRC: I bet that was Mike Mearls.


BG: Was this choice to release wide-access playtesting a result of some perception of failure in the 4 edition rules, or do you think it was a marketing choice, or some other factor?


BRC: It was done through a legitimate desire to make the best game possible by gathering actual, statistically real data.


BG: I feel the Internet age causes a lot of online heat from vocal minorities for companies like WoTC, who get instant feedback from users of the products, how do you deal with this?


BRC: I stop reading forums that are taken over by toxic loudmouths, which nicely solves that issue. When I worked at Wizards, I advocated that Wizards get rid of its forums and call it a day–obviously I didn’t win the day with that argument, but I still believe it to be the right choice. If toxic people find me on my various social media outlets (g+, Twitter, and FB), I block them, and am never troubled again by that particular foolishness.


BG: Thanks for your time Bruce, and good luck!


BRC: Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to you and your readers! If people are interested in keeping up with what I’m up to at Monte Cook Games, please follow me at one (or more!) of the following sites.


Bruce Cordell is a game designer at Monte Cook Games, and was a designer and novelist at Wizards of the Coast from 1995 – 2013. He is the author of many novels, adventures, and gaming accessories. He was also a part of the D&D Next design team.

Alfred O. Cloutier has contributed to Dragon Magazine, and has edited for a number of other gaming publishers. He can be found at


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Warhammer 40k 1500pt Event – 8/31

Battleground Games & Hobbies – Plainville MA

Format: Singles (1v1) 1500 points per person
Date: August 31st, 2013 a Saturday
Time: Please be here no later than 9:30am.  Set up at 9:45am.  Dice roll no later than 10:00am.
Entrance Fee:  $20.00


Please note the earlier start time.



25 Taunton Street

Plainville MA 02762



Find us on Google Maps – Or take some time to review us.


Check out our Facebook Page


This event will be capped at 40 players.

To register for this event you must email  Please register if and only if you can commit to playing on August 31st.


*** While all the the Grand Tournament regulars and serious / competitive guys are away from the weekend at the NOVA Open, Battleground is hosting an event that may have a slightly less fearsome field and play at an uncommon point level.  Check it out! ***




Rule Books: The Warhammer 40,000 SIXTH Edition Rules will be used.


The following is a list of legal army choices:

Codex: Black Templars
Codex: Blood Angels
Codex: Chaos Daemons
Codex: Chaos Space Marines
Codex: Grey Knights
Codex: Dark Angels
Codex: Dark Eldar
Codex: Eldar + Iyanden Supplement + Farsight Supplement
Codex: Imperial Guard
Codex: Necrons
Codex: Orks
Codex: Space Marines
Codex: Space Wolves
Codex: Tau Empire
Codex: Tyranids
Codex: Sister of Battle (White Dwarf)



1. Each player must bring an army consisting of 1500 points (but no fewer than 1475), in accordance with these rules…

2. All models must follow “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG). All weapons, war gear, and so forth must be represented on the model.

3. Pictures of conversions or “counts as” models must be emailed to unless they have previously been approved.

4. Warlord Traits – At the start of each game, before deployment, select two tables.  Roll a die for each table.  Choose ONE of the two results as your Warlord Trait for that game.

5. Psychic Powers – At the start of each game, prior to deployment, players may choose to select the psychic powers listed in their Codex as normal OR swap them for a number of rolls on the psychic disciplines tables per the Warhammer 40,000 rule book. Unless stated otherwise, you MAY NOT mix and match Codex and rule book powers.

6. Forge World Imperial Armor units (and army lists) ARE allowed in this event.  Units must bear the “40k Approved” stamp to be played.

7. We will require that each participant submits an itemized army list to a Battleground Tournament Organizer on or before Monday, August 26th (roughly a week before the event).  An Army Builder .pdf is preferred but a detailed text file (.txt) is acceptable.  PLEASE include the number of points each upgrade and unit costs on your list.

Please email lists to as soon as they are finalized.

8. If illegal units or other rules violations are found in a player’s army list, at a minimum, the models in violation will be removed from all subsequent play. In addition, tournament points may be deducted and/or award eligibility may be forfeited. If in doubt, please ask for clarification in advance from a Battleground Tournament Organizer.

9.  Restrictions:

• This event will not use “Mysterious Terrain” (p.102-103).
• This event will not use “Archotech Artefacts” (p 106).
• This event will not use “Unique Terrain” (p. 107).
• This event will not allow The Fortress of Redemption or Skyshield Landing Pad.



• Competitors will participate in three (3) games over the course of the day. In each game, you will play a scenario and record the outcome of the battle on your results sheet. Each round you will play a different opponent.  Each round will last 2 hours.  There will be no additional time given for deployment.

• In the first round, players will be matched up randomly. After the first round, players will be matched up according to current rankings in the tournament (based on the number of points they’ve scored) e.g., the player in first place will play the player in second place and so on. We will try our best not to pair players that come to the event together or regularly play each other in the first round. If a player receives a BYE they will be awarded either maximum or the average of the winning players points for the round, depending on turn out.

• You will not play the same person twice.

• We will do our best to prevent a player from playing on the same table twice.

• The pairings for each round will be announced as soon as they are determined. Please be sure to arrive at your table ready to play right away.

• Slow playing will NOT be tolerated.  Players are expected to complete at least 4 rounds in each game.  If you suspect your opponent is slow playing PLEASE notify a Battleground staff member as soon as possible as we can not do anything about alleged slow play after the fact.

• Each game will be played on a 4′ x 6′ board.

• Players will receive Results Sheets and Player’s Choice Sheets for each round at the beginning of the event. Each results sheet must be filled in properly to ensure that match-ups and point totals are correct. Once the sheets are completed they are to be turned in at the counter so the scores can be entered into the computer.



The exact scenarios will not be posted before the event but will resemble the book missions.  We may or may not adapt them to our needs for this 3 round event.


The SIXTH Edition Rulebook and FAQ will be in use for all games and will be the definitive guide for all rules. The time limit for each game is 2 hours. At the end of this time limit, the round will be called; players will need to finish the round as quickly as possible.


What You Need to Bring with You:
-Your (hopefully painted) miniatures
-At least TWO copies of your army list
-Rulebooks are required as are any additional books you need
-Pen and paper
-Dice and templates
-Tape measure
Something to transport your army from table to table


Store credit is good for any product in the store and all subsequent events.  It never expires and will be saved for you.


Best General
Second Best General
Third Best General
Fourth Best General (only awarded if the turnout is 36 players or higher)


Best Appearance – Army (individual) [Note:  Players MUST DISPLAY ALL of the models that are present on their army list.  Players may not omit models or display models that are not part of the list they are playing in the event.  If a player is found breaking this rule, he will forfeit his chance at this award.]


Players Choice – The Players Choice award will go to the player that the others feel best reflects important aspects of the hobby.  Every team will score their opponents on sportsmanship, theme, appearance, and overall awesomeness. **This award will be significant.**


Smokin’ Boots – You got crushed… and you deserve an award for your epic failure.


player may only win one award with the exception of Best Appearance, which may go to any player participating in the event, regardless of their finish / other awards.


• A note on the Appearance award – We will award the individual who we feel has the best looking army. We will use a scoring rubric that looks at painting, basing, display boards, and various other “extras” to determine the winner. Here is a link to the rubric we will use.


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New Releases

The following items are available to order from either Battleground location.


Warmachine: Forces of Warmachine – Convergence of Cyriss



To those who worship Cyriss, no tenet is more sacred than the Fifth Harmonic – the belief that the Clockwork Goddess will manifest once the perfect machine is created across all of Caen. The key to this vessel’s completion lies in the geomantic fulcrums of power that cover the world, many in hostile territory. For centuries the cult has been amassing an immense mechanikal army, poised to take the final steps in readying for their goddess. The time has come for the Convergence to complete the Great Work, and they will let none stand in their way! Devote yourself to mechanikal perfection and transcend the flesh withForces of Warmachine: Convergence of Cyriss, featuring complete faction rules and profiles for fielding the Convergence of Cyriss in Warmachine Mk II.


Softcover $29.99

Hardcover $39.99




Warmachine: Convergence of Cyriss Battlegroup Starter



Emerging from their hidden temple workshops, the enigmatic Convergence of Cyriss have unleashed their sophisticated clockwork and mechanika weapons called vectors on the Iron Kingdoms as they begin the final phase of their Great Work. This Convergence of Cyrissstarter box contains quickstart rules and a complete battlegroup of four plastic models (Warcaster Forge Master Syntherion, Cipher Heavy Vector, Mitigator Light Vector, and Galvanizer Light Vector) and corresponding stat cards for Warmachine.


Box Starter $49.99



Pathfinder Battles: White Dragon Evolution Boxed Set

Packed with icy menace, the White Dragon Evolution Boxed Set is the first Pathfinder Battles pre-painted miniatures offering from Paizo Publishing and WizKids Games to showcase that most feared of adversaries, dragons!




White Dragons tend to be the most feral and animalistic of the chromatic dragons, relying on sheer force rather than elaborate plans or strategies. They live in cold mountain regions and arctic lowlands, making homes within freezing ice-caves or other remote areas. Masters of the cold, White Dragons employ freezing breath, along with a number of other cold-based spells in order to freeze both prey and foe alike. They prefer food to be frozen solid before eating! The White Dragon Evolution Boxed Set provides Pathfinder Battles fans with three different size categories of White Dragons for use in your campaigns: Medium, Large, and Huge! That’s right! Three white dragons to menace your player characters!


Box Set $39.99


Edition Wars



A fun-filled, tongue-in-cheek, standalone strategy card game romp, players inEdition Wars portray Gamemasters slavishly devoted to their edition of the game! In an effort to champion their edition, players compete to be the first to assemble a complete group of six Gamers – a task made complicated by other Gamemasters seeking to steal your Gamers out from under you! Defend your existing Gamers with Snark, Blog, and Merch, equip yourself with special gear, and toss instant critical effects designed to aid you on your epic quest to edition supremacy!


SRP: $24.95



Pacific Rim HeroClix



When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes — a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) — who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.




Recreate the gigantic action of Pacific Rim on your tabletop! The mechs and monsters from Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi action movie are now available as figures for the best-selling HeroClix tabletop game by WizKids. Collect all 10 miniature figures and battle for the survival of humanity! The special rotating base on each figure tracks your progress and lets you use special abilities, so there’s no need to keep score.

The full line of Pacific Rim HeroClix figures includes five heroic Jaegers. Check out the video below for a 360-degree look at Gipsy Danger, Striker Eureka, Cherno Alpha, Crimson Typhoon, and Coyote Tango!



Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition



A mad scientist holds the world hostage with his terrifying inventions! An alien warlord from a far away galaxy brings his limitless army of bizarre minions to conquer the planet! A giant, rampaging robot cuts a swath of destruction across the coast, destroying major population centers! Who will stand in their way? A team of heroes, all with impressive powers and abilities stand between the world and the forces of evil. Answer the call to protect the multiverse!


A cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor newly designed by Richard Launius (Arkham HorrorElder Sign), the Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition features 36 divider cards, 120 round and 42 rectangular tokens for tracking hero and villain HP and damage modifiers, and a 20-page rulebook, complete with instructions, diagrams, a quick-start guide, and bios of the heroes and villains, all packaged in a larger box with enough space to hold 578 cards and still have room for all the cards from both the Rook City and Infernal Relics.


SRP: $39.95


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10 Year Anniversary Celebration

Battleground Games & Hobbies 10 Year Anniversary Celebration, June 29th and 30th in Abington MA


We have a fantastic weekend of events and prizes lined up for the 10 Year Anniversary Celebration of Battleground Games & Hobbies!  From Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons, Warmachine, Pokemon, Weiss Schwarz, Pathfinder, HeroClix, and a huge variety of board games we expect there will be more than enough to keep you busy for hours and hours.


Throughout the day on SATURDAY, we’ll be hosting a various demos, “mini events,” sales, raffles and giveaways. We’ve set aside a great selection of prize packages that will be available to everyone that walks through the door. However, the longer you stay and the more you play will increase your chances to win some of the sweet loot we’ll be raffling off.  Saturday is the day you can’t miss!


There are several ways to earn raffle tickets on Saturday, the 29th. Here’s how it works:


• Just for showing up, liking us on FB, and filling out one of our Battleground Gamer Cards you will receive three raffle tickets.

• If you participate in a demo, mini event, or just play a game for an hour or two you will earn an extra ticket.

• Anyone that wins one of our “mini events” throughout the day will earn more raffle tickets (in addition to other prize support dependent on each individual event).

• For every $10 you spend throughout the day, you will earn another raffle ticket.

• If you spend time running a demo for the store (talk to a store manager if you are interested, we’d love your help) you can earn up to three more raffle tickets.


Obviously, the more tickets you earn the better the chances you have to win one of our prize packages. Prize packages will be broken up into the four categories listed below. You can choose to split up your raffle tickets into the different prize package categories.


• Miniature Games (GW + WM/H)

• Card Games (Magc + Pokemon)

• Board Games

• Role-Playing Games (D&D + Pathfinder)


After all the category winners are announced we’ll pool all the remaining tickets and draw one more winner who will receive a $100.00 Gift Certificate.


On SUNDAY we’ll be bringing Battleground back to it’s roots with some good, old fashion, sword swinging, spell slinging, action in the form of the Pathfinder Arena!  Players will be able to buy into the arena by purchasing Pathfinder Battles booster packs or play for free by using one of the pregenerated characters provided.  100’s of people at PAX can’t be wrong, this is an event you’re going to want to be there for!


Furthermore, we’ll be doing smaller giveaway / raffles throughout the weekend that will be awarded to someone who is in the store when the item(s) are given out.  We’ve got TONS of cool stuff to give out for this weekend.  Come help us celebrate!


Posted in Blog, Events, Featured Post, Popular Posts, Store Related | 1 Comment »

Battleground Shout-out from Penny Arcade!

Penny Arcade blog author Sophie Prell has written an article on her experiences playing in the Pathfinder Arena at PAX East this year. Battleground gets a healthy shout-out for the innovative work put in by Craig Baker, Chad Kelble, and Jeff Coulton. Anyone who attends PAX East and comes anywhere near the Table Top Hall knows what an incredible job Craig does keeping the Arena a lively and fun place to die for three days straight. The sporadic cheers of “HUZZAH!” that can be heard reverberating throughout the hall attest to the heroic struggles unfolding on the bloody sands of the colosseum.


All this talk about the arena has me thinking we might need to reinstate this event at the Abington location on the weekends…


Here’s the linked article. Be sure to give it a read!


Posted in Blog, Featured Post, Miniature Games, Pathfinder, Store Related | 3 Comments »

International TableTop Day, Saturday March 30th


Date: Saturday, March 30th, 2013
Time: All day!
Entrance Fee: FREE
This Saturday, running all day, Battleground is hosting the 1st International TableTop Day at our Abington location! Come down with your favorite games or just bring an open mind. We’ll have demos and games running all day long. There will be a huge variety of tabletop games to hop in and play, including many from the hit web series, Tabletop!
No matter if you’re a veteran board gamer or the newbiest of newbs, there will be plenty for you to enjoy. Come down this Saturday and join us! At some point in the day, the event will also be live-streamed over the internet to the International TableTop Day host!

Posted in Blog, Board Games, Events, Featured Post | No Comments »

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