Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wargaming the Ultima series

In 1992 I bought a copy of Ultima VII, The Black Gate. Rich in story and full of engaging creatures and characters, this rpg drew me in completely. It was designed for DOS systems—sadly, it quikly unplayable on more modern computers. In 2000 the third party software, Exult, brought the game back to life. The Black Gate and its sequel, Serpent Isle, can be now played on contemporary machines (PCs and Macs).

In addition, the story of Ultima V is available as a the mod to the game Dungeon Siege, bringing a 1988 PC game into a 3-D graphic format. I am happy to play the aptly named Ultima V Lazarus, but I have also been wanting to bring the characters of Ultima's Britannia to the tabletop. I am collecting 28mm medieval/fantasy figures to represent the people, monsters and animals found in my favorite PC game.

Over the months I searched for potential wargame rules to game with these models. GW's LOTR game has been a front runner for a while, and I thought the old boardgame, HeroQuest might do nicely. I have finally settled on the rule set, Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH). It's a simple, but fun system. Appropriate to the Ultima games, it has a supplement for dungeon crawls—Song of Gold and Darkness.

Ultima Computer Game Links
Ultima Aiera - fan blog keeping you abreast of current Ultima projects
Dino's Ultima Page - Old Ultima resources and up-to-date news
Ultima V, Lazarus a modern remake of the 1988 U5
Ultima VI Project a modern remake of the 1990 U6 (a work in progress)
Exult - play Ultima VII on your Mac or PC. (email me if you need any files!)
Ultima Wikia - encyclopedia of all things Ultima


Anonymous said...

Greetings, Avatar!

Cubicle 7 press reissues the Advanced Fighting Fantasy game system by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. The system is strikingly elementary (2 stats) and can easily be adapted to the Ultima setting. It is in my view more elaborately conceived than SBH. In fact, it takes little effort to compile your home Ultima Bestiary, World Guide by using the Ultima computer game materials available on It is a lot of fun to replay Ultima Underworld (Stygian Abyss and Gems of Enlightenment) on the game board..

Kind regards, M.

Anonymous said...

F**king WOW. Nice work. i just stumbled onto these posts and I am digging what you're doing with the Ultima monsters and characters. I've been meaning to do some headless myself but never found minis that were quite right for it. I like the Caesar goblins as gremlins too. I am doing some old GW snotlings as gremlins myself.

Andrew said...

Thanks! I'm sorry I don't have any new additions to the Ultima model project to share. I bought some Shadowforge Valkyries to be the female companions of the Avatar, and I have a bunch of Medieval villagers, but I haven't painted anything in a long while.