Friday, December 30, 2011

End of Year Ramblings

Just a few little ramblings to get them off of my mind, so it can focus on other things.

The majority of the blog writing is done at work. No, no, I'm not one of those guys who spends all day on his fantasy team, or hunting down eBay treasures. Work does restrict access at my desk PC, but if I'm willing to deal with the unwashed masses at a computer in the middle of the building, I can go to town. If I really have an idea that can't wait, or need to go over a Game Trade or con .pdf, I can always use gmail.

The whole reason I bring this up is last night the workstation I was at actually blocked my blog! The security system loves to block random things. is labelled "Games" but The Miniatures Page is good. is completely blocked but yog-sothoth is okay. I was disheartened that not only would I not be able to follow up my blog, but I wouldn't be able to read the blogs that I love. Those fears were partially allayed when I found a backdoor to allow me to post, but completely disappeared when I realized it was just that workstation.

I finally brought in the gnomes from the garage. The entire final quarter of the year has been too hectic, so all the figs are jammed into the boxes with no rhyme nor reason. Part of my quasi-New Years resolutions is to start painting again, so the finished figs will be touched up and I'll see what I can get done.

I also swung by Michael's this morning. The Christmas stuff is 50-70% off, so I picked up a bunch of present boxes that would be perfect for 28mm, and got them for mere pennies apiece. Their Victorian Christmas Village stuff was essentially gone, although if I wanted to give a bunch of ceramic nutcrackers a serious repaint, there were a pile of them there.

I may post some more before the end, but if I don't, I shall steal from other blogs...

If you enjoy the blog, please become a follower, before it becomes all the rage, and people begin to claim you jumped on the bandwagon.

To those who followed/suggested my 12 blogs of Christmas, thanks! I have two or three more I'm working on, although if someone could arrange a Car Wars day, that would be awesome.

Gnome Wars has a Facebook page! I set it up, and may one day add material to it.

And finally, my you, your family, your dice, and your Cthulhu plushies, have a very Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Awkward Family Photo Board Game

Gaming was not part of the Christmas weekend, either in playing or in gifts. Sure, my little girl got her copy of Candyland, and we got back and forth on the board before the zillion other toys distracted her. It's okay. She's 2 1/2 and has asked to play it everyday since then.

Our friend Molly did get us a party game for Christmas, Awkward Family Photos The Boardgame. Apparently there's a website dedicated to these photos and this is there official board game. I won't even post the front of the box, cause the back is far more awesome:

Everybody Run! Granny's got a... Luger?

I admit, I only perused the contents of the box, but there are dozens of photos to use (the board is double sided with pics as well), twenty questions to pose to the players, such as "What happened just after this picture was taken," and the old standy, "Caption this picture." The geek high point for me is, yes the game comes with dice (a d20 for the questions). Prices range online from 19.99 all the way up to 38.99, but if you do have a group of mundanes, this looks like a fun party game.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

(Cold Wars) Cold Wars 2012 PEL is up - Gnome Games!

And here, boys and girls, are the Gnome Wars events for Cold Wars 2012

F-209 - Gnome Wars: Surf and Turf
Fri. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Jim Stanton with Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!!
Age of Piracy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars!
Captain Alvarado and his band of pirates are trying to evade the
British pirate hunters and sneak onto a deserted island and get their
treasure. The Captain best be on his guard for the British Marines
are hot on his trail.
One of the bring your army, don't prereg games. British Marines getting some love for once.

S-355 - The Battle of Apaula Heights - 1898
Sat. 10:00 AM, 3 hrs, 8 players
GM: Eric Jacobson
Colonial 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars
During the Spanish-American War, the USS Charleston obtained
the complete surrender of Guam with only a small landing party. In
this what-if scenario, the Charleston and the troop transports it was
escorting are rerouted to Samoa instead, to support the rebels in the
Second Samoan Civil War and forcibly remove German influence.
My "unofficial" game, as the army rules does not apply. American, German, Samoan Swiss, and possibly the Imperial Guard of California making their debut.

Then Saturday Afternoon, everything goes crazy!

S-211 - Gnome Wars: High Seas
Sat. 3:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Kevin Jacobi with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!!
Age of Piracy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars!
The landing parties have headed to shore to get the treasure. The
members of the crew that stayed on the ship must try to keep it
afloat and free from rival crews, ghost and zombie crews, and
pirates. Hoist the black flag and load the cannons!

S-210 - Gnome Wars: Treasure Island
Sat. 3:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Jim Stanton with Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!!
Age of Piracy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars!
Standing in the shade of the palm trees on this uncharted island,
looking down at the faded map in his hands, Lon the Lunkhead felt
a tad uneasy. Was the map real? The answer to his question was
just a few feet below his shoes. Lon drew a thin breath and ordered
his gnomes to start digging.

S-212 - Gnome Wars: The Raid on New Providence
Sat. 3:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Eric Jacobson with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!!
Age of Piracy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars!
The British Marines are planning a raid on New Providence to look
for pirate scum. What they don't know is that there are more than
just pirates with "business" on New Providence and the marines
are just pissing them off.
Let's just try to comprehend this. Three separate tables, 24 pre-reg slots, one table of treasure hunting, one of a raid on a pirate town, and the last an ongoing ship to ship combat going on in between! And yes, somebody said zombies in there!

S-213 - Gnome Wars: The Raid on New Providence
Sat. 8:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players
GM: Steven Stanton with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!!
Age of Piracy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars!
After being duped on the desert island Lon the Lunkhead brings
his German forces to confront the pirates on the island of New
Providence. Come and help answer these questions: Will he
reclaim his treasure and get his Revenge? Can the pirates turn the
tide and make-off with Lon's
A nice cooldown scenario from the chaos of Saturday afternoon.

and just so everyone can review the entire PEL:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(Cold Wars) Cold Wars 2012 PEL is up - General

While I was doing the 12 Days of Blogging, the Cold Wars 2012 PEL was released. The listing looks a little sparse to the naked eye, but I anticipate many more games, as some GMs were blindsided the deadline.

Unlike last years' three HMGS cons, there were numerous events that caught my eye. Some are obscure, some are just written well, and some just sound fun! A couple games I'm including simply because I never mention them in the PEL review, yet I post pics of the game every chance I get.

I'll cover the "regular" games that garnered my attention, and in a following post, cover the gnome events that I know "everyone" is drooling over.

Schlegel's Ferry games run by the HAWKS.
The HAWKS have expanded their games this year to focus on holidays. Valentine Day mobsters, Columbus Day with Indians, Explorer's Day Sci-Fi, Halloween with Aliens. Always looks like a hoot.

F-131 - Wolverines! Fri. 10:00 AM, Rules: Force on Force
The Soviet Union has launched a surprise attack upon the United States, attempting to seize key transport locations to continue the offensive. One of these is the critical road hub of Calumet City.Only mixed formations of National Guard and civilian volunteers stand in the path of the onrushing Soviet juggernaut. You know the movie, play the game.
Gotta love a Red Dawn game! Let's hope the rules are adjusted for a "cinematic" approach to the civilian volunteers.

F-193 - The Siberian Rifles - Manchuria, 1905 15mm, Rules: Home Rules
In a rare turnabout of circumstances, elements of the 2nd and Guard divisions of the Japanese First Army (Koruki) are defending a pair of villages at either end of a vital rail bridge. Coordinated attacks by elements from the 4th Siberian Corps (Russian) have hit both sides of the river at the same time. Can the Japanese hold both ends?
A little Russo-Japanese action. Also Saturday at 9am

F-187 - Battle of Lake Erie -WWI version 1:2400, Rules: Fear God and Dreadnough
War has broken out between England and the US over impressment of American sailors and other maritime indignities.Eager to recover lost prestige and control of the Great Lakes, both sides have deployed naval forces to Lake Erie. It's a classic battle from the War of 1812 reset with more 'modern' warships courtesy of the Admiralty Trilogy.

1812 goodness with destroyers and battleships. Actually WWI fought on North America sounds fantastic!

F-223 The Battle of Peitsang
Fri. 3:00 PM, Colonial 28mm, Rules: Colonial Adventures
Chinese Imperial forces have joined the Boxers in an effort to remove foreign influence. The Chinese are blocking access to the Hiksu arsenal to the Western Powers. Russians, German, Italian,French, British, and Japanese forces are sent to capture the village Peitsang and any artillery pieces being used by the Chinese.

Some Boxer Rebellion love...

F-413 - How to build professionally made buildings
Fri. 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, 20 players

This is a 3 hour course on how to build a professional 15mm or 25mm building. Hands on step by step construction of a European Farm House. It's a lot of fun, and you will be astonished with your final result. If we have time we can even paint it. All materials willbe supplied by HMGS and the organizers of Cold Wars.
Even if you will never use a European farm house, this should be the first pick for more than 20 people, hands down.

F-262 - The Canadians Punch Through (DoubleBlind)
Fri. 7:00 PM,28mm, Rules: Battleground WW2
It is May 23 1944. The Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, supported by elements of the North Irish Horse, experience their worst and most costly day of the Italian Campaign as they launch their attack against the vaunted Hitler Line. Can they open a breachfor the 5th Canadian Armoured Div to exploit?Gamers under the age of 14 are welcome with an adult.

Four words stood out: Canadian, Irish, Double Blind. And yeah, some Nazis are floating around as well.

F-202 - Pig Wars – Saxon Raiders
Fri. 8:00 PM, Dark Ages 25mm, Rules: Modified Pig Wars
“Damned Saxons are at it again! How dare they think they can raid our village! We will show these impetuous farmers the true natureof a Dane!” The proud warrior thought as he donned his coat of mail. Can Utrik defend his village against the Saxons? Has an alliance been formed with the Franks, if so with whom? WillUtrik’s brother use this opportunity to claim his rightful place? Arethe Saxons in collusion with Elrick of the White Banner? Multiple plots abound in the morning mist of war.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Pig Wars, dating back to Cold Wars 2001. This might be my Friday night game, depending on what Jim, the Canadian, SONG (Society of Neffs Gamers) are doing.

S-369 - Assault in Helmand Province
Sat. 9:00 AM, Modern 28mm, Rules: Force on Force
The US surge forces are in place in Afghanistan. A recently arrived
US Marine Task Force in Helmand province launches an assault on
a Taliban stronghold. The Marine mission is to root out the Taliban
forces from the area.

I'm warming up to more recent conflicts, probably because they're becoming more recent and less current.

S-397 - French and Indian Picnic
Sat. 10:00 AM Age of Reason 20mm, Rules: Teddy Bear Picnic
The bears are at it again in the Ohio Valley. Who will hold the picnic grounds. Winner of last years best kids game. Kids Game

Much love to the teddy bears

S-318 - The Alamo March 6th,1836
Sat. 10:00 AM, 19th Century 54mm, Rules: Santa Anna Rules
Come defend the Alamo, with Crockett, Bowie, Travis and their
men, whose names aren't as well known, but whose deeds were
just as Heroic. Not recommended for kids.

I believe this is the 54mm Alamo I've normally posted pics to. There is an odd sense of irony that a game played with actual toy soliders is not recommended for kids.
S-192 - Goodbye to Guns or All's Quiet on the Ruritanian Front, 1918
Pulp 28mm, Rules: Astounding Tales/All God's Children Got Guns
Amidst the chaos of the Great War in the Balkans, a brash young American ambulance driver attempts to rescue his true love, a downed Ruritanian aviatrix. But standing in his way is not only the might of the Central Powers but also numerous rivals for this popular lady's affections. It's a love story -- with poison gas.

Pulpy Role-Playing goodness in the Balkans. This I'd like to see!
S-314 - The Cheese Convoy, 1645
Sat. 4:00 PM, Rules: Carnage and Glory Pike and Shot
King Charles has requested his governor of Bridgnorth supply his army in Worcester with ten tons of cheese. Sir Lewis Kirke dutifully obeys, and sets off with his smelly convoy. But the local Parliamentarians are also keen on cheese, and plan to intercept and capture the precious cargo. Based upon an actual historical event, set in Shropshire and Worcestershire 1645.

C'mon, it involves CHEESE!

The Apathy of New Releases (January 2012)

Welcome to the first installment of solicited items guaranteed to ship 2012.

Okay, stop laughing. We all know a small percentage of the solicitations are vaporware (are minis vapor molds?).

As I have in the past, I'll try to list the new items by (1) items I simply must have, (2) items I would snag up if money was no object, and (3) my imaginary store list. If your favorite game of choice isn't listed or is badmouthed by me, don't take too much offense. I simply have decided over months of solicitations that the effort and capital investment is too much.

Want List: Nothing I simply must have.

Dream List:

Mantic: All I knew about Mantic is that they produce some nice fantasy models which are cheaper alternatives to Games Workshop. The 40k "knock-offs" are piquing my interest. Here's a pic of their Corporation Marines

Knowing it's Mantic, I first though 40k, then over to a little Starship Troopers. Then I realized why I liked them: Legions of Steel UNE Non-Powered Infantry! Now they are all metal, but they don't tell you how many figs you get in a box for $44.99.

COLONIAL GOTHIC: THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR The setting intrigues me enough to pick up any random book that I could find. At worst, it would be a great read.

Warlord: Everyone who's read the blog knows how ga-ga (sans Lady) i've been over their Rorke's Drift "playsets." Now the individual boxed sets are coming available in the US and it's apparent that even with UK shipping, the full sets are steals.

  • Anglo-Zulu War British Infantry $38.66

  • Married Zulus $38.66

  • Natal Native Contingent $38.66

  • Unmarried Zulus $38.66

  • Rorke's Drift (building, walls, mealie bags) $299.97

Now, for the quality of figure, $38.66 seems like a decent price and I may pick up a box or two at Cold Wars if price and availability are right. I don't even do Ancients, but the Praetorian Cavalry Command looks sweet (3 mounted figs for $15.47... couldn't get a good pic of it)



Catalyst: B'Tech, Shadowrun, and Cosmic Patrol




Decision Games has a huge solicitation this month, and the majority of their product is actually well-priced (re: under $25)
Plus two Strategy & Tactics and other wackier game with low prints focusing on certain types of gamers i may or may not have as customers,so i'd hold off on ordering them.

Crazy amounts of Heavy Gear again, is somebody actually ordering/buying this stuff?

CONSPIRACY X: THE PARANORMAL SOURCEBOOK - Eden still makes Conspiracy X? Wow!


MERCHANT OF VENUS : Remake of the 80's boardgame with a '10's price 59.99

MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: CIVIL WAR EVENT BOOK - holy crap, a sourcebook to follow-up a superhero rpg. The Mayan calendar was right!

Mayfair: Two new boardgames that are questionable for a small store. Rocket Jockeys looks like a better short-term/quantity seller at $15.00. A generic game called Whitewater for $35.00 is only good when the extra fundage is around, and January/February is not the extra fundage time of year.

Miskatonic River Press:

CALL OF CTHULHU: DISSECTING CTHULHU: This collection of essays about the Cthulhu Mythos

CALL OF CTHULHU: HORROR FOR THE HOLIDAYS -stories geared toward the holiday season.


Call to Arms: Star Fleet releaseas another slew of minis. In the same vein as Heavy Gear, is there a market and are they responding in kind by buying it?

Paizo: In addition to 2 3rd party books, Paizo is releasing 5 new products usable for Pathfinder.

Palladium - ooh, Palladium product, a new issue of Rifter, ROBOTECH RPG: GENESIS PITS SOURCEBOOK, and what everyone has been waiting for, RIFTS: PATH OF THE STORM MOVIE SCRIPT for $12.95.

Dystopian Wars - Another mini line, but I've seen some excitement over this. This month's solicitation is for Antarctica (yes, it's a country... or something in this game). Also solicited are scenery sets for the game.

Firestorm Armada - same pile of new releases, although I've heard zero buzz within the area.


New D&D and Magic comics: All together now... yay! Not! Let me get this straight, the new D&D comics will be brand new stories in hardcover graphic novel style, and they'll come with an adventure, which may or may not be in the book? I now IDW will sell enough to pay royalties and pull a profit, but really? Plus the "PI" listing means the retailer usually gets a significantly lower dealer rate. I'd tread lightly on these. The Magic comic comes with a alternative art Magic card. Somebody's always crazy for these, although I'm still hesistant to do anything crazy.

D&D from Wizards

  • Cathedral of Chaos Dungeons Tiles

  • Haunted Temples Map Pack

  • Lords of Waterdeep Boardgame - a Euro style D&D game instead of producing quality product. Is Magestones coming out again?


Magic: Dark Ascension - Hooray Liquid Money! Just in time to pay the rent for March!

WizKids: Marvel Heroclix: Avengers Movie: Slightly gelantinous money! Starters and boosters

STAR TREK HEROCLIX: TACTICS - more liquid money, but there is one thing that worries me. The four ship starter packs sound ok, but they will have ONE SHIP BOOSTERS? At least with Magic, you pull a crappy rare and could salvage the pack with commons and uncommons. With this set-up, everything's fine until you pull your 6th Federation tug in a row!

Monday, December 26, 2011


12+1 anyone?

Just a shout out to GnomeCon 1, coming my birthday weekend, April 20-22 at the Savannah Conference Hotel.

No, I'm not going, but the question I have is, 'How can the GnomeCon name not been used in the last 35+ years of conventions?'

For more info:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

(12 Days) # 12 Merry Christmas

From mine to yours, have a blessed Christmas, happy holidays all around, and if find yourself in a fight on Boxing Day, don't rip the guy's ear off.

International Arms Manufacturer S. Claus, and one of his ho-ho-h... er... a very inebriated Mrs. Claus.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

(12 Days) #11 Preparing for the Big Day

Okay party people, there's little time between work and my part in wishing everyone a God Jul tonight to get anymore than this to the gnomies faithful:

The Elves are busy assembling the last of the toys (or whacking a few defective xBox 360s)

The relatives are coming, bearing gifts no one wants. (Fruitcake, yum!)

Shoppers are snagging up last minutes deals

And the 1% cackles with Scrooge McDuck glee

Not supposed to be poetry, but enjoy!

all pictures are from gary2bot on the Gnome Wars Yahoo! group. No permission asked to take them, cause c'mon, it's Christmas. Plus they're awesome modifications that everyone knows I couldn't do on my best day. More pics of his and others can be found there!

Friday, December 23, 2011

(12 Days) #10 Lessons of Maja

For starters, doing this for twelve straight days, making stuff up, rather than a mixture of news and reviews, and opinions, is absolute madness! Doing this at Christmas borders on sheer stupidity! I only have one more post to compile after this (Christmas Day was set up about a week ago, I just need to add some comments).

Today we cover that wonderful little sprite in the house, my daughter Maja. While my youngest Amelia is the one dressed as a gnome on my Facebook page, Maja has demonstrated a love of the gnome and a penchant for silly sayings.

Maja, like all kids, says some ridiculously cute things, but since I don't want to hear most of the things you think are "cute" about your kids, I won't bother you with mine. I will, however, point out the "cool" things she says, that are almost gamer-appropriate.

Arguing with my wife about the difference between Christmas and Christmastime? At home... won't bother you with details.

Explaining that the royal carriage of the prince and princess, when not in royal use, is used for delivering pizza in the kingdom, is a lesson of Maja we all could use.

Calling a Mark I Assault Fiend from Legions of Steel the "Angry Gnome"? A lesson of Maja for all.

Between the lack of minis being painted at the kitchen table and Maja just growing up, there have been fewer and fewer gaming related lessons. Now, that's not a bad thing. She is starting to communicate cause and effect and summarize "stories". She's great with the Wizard of Oz, much to my wife's chagrin. And my favorite part? She can follow along with a made up story, with only a few pictures for visual aids.

Last month, she grabbed my copy of Mouse Guard off the shelf and wanted Daddy to read her a story. I assumed she didn't want to read about dice pools, and just kept a simple story through the pictures in the book. We got about half way through until it was time for baths, and Maja's lesson?

"Mice walk in the snow a lot."

Mouse Guard: a game of epic adventure, fantastic storytelling... and mice walking everywhere in the ^!#$%!@# snow.

I've talked about Candyland before, but having a child has completely changed my gaming perogatives. Not that I don't want to play everyday, because I do... I just prefer to stay married and not have my cajones placed in a decorative container in the living room.

Now, I'm staring at the Wizard of Oz going, how can I turn this into a a multi-session campaign battle with a movable battlefield between sessions? What materials would I need to build Munchkinland? Oz? Can I justify another Swiss gnome unit just to paint them like the Munchkinland Army? When can I order the Flying Monkeys from Eureka? What body parts of my neighbors can I sell to afford them?

Heck, the new Alice in Wonderland was on, I was pondering where exactly Wonderland was located in regards to Oz, or any other fantastic book/story. It would take a little work, but she's still into it, I could put together a game for Tangled (some people like the story, dialogue, and balanced approach to Rapunzel, I just like the brigands and royal uniforms.

And on top of all of that, she'll kick all our butts in a game of Apples to Apples, far sooner than anyone is willing to admit.

Christmas is coming and I am blessed to have two of the best little girls God has put on this Earth. Amelia's still trying to figure things out, but I will do my best to make sure that outside of all the important lessons my wife Michelle and I try to teach her each day, she keeps two of the more important rules true: Always try to be yourself, and have fun doing it.

Her Ladyship

Thursday, December 22, 2011

(12 Days) #9 An Ode to Charles

Alright, I might be briefer than I want to for this, but since certain people caught an early posting error and are excited, I shall try to do this justice.

Since it is the holidays, and we should be spreading Christmas. I shall admit my undying gamer love and appreciation for Charles Schindler

If Charles is reading this, his one eyebrow is already raise with a confident yet confused smirk on his face.

There is a good chance that all of this, the blog, the books, the stories, even the gnomes would not exist for me if it wasn't for Charles.

Flashback, Spring 1987, 7th grade Easton Area Middle School. Once or twice a week the school would compress the other periods 5 or 6 minutes to allow for an activity period. This activity period allowed for hobbies that the staff were willing to supervise. I remember taking golf because we could be outside at the end of the day, but my final activity was model club.

Yep, a bunch of nerdy boys assembling hot rods, tanks, and in my good fortune, Battletech models (oh if I hadn't taken it out of the box, I'd be rich today). I don't remember how the conversation went, but Charles noticed the Btech model, talked up a few other things including D&D and Car Wars, and next week, he "gm'ed" me through one of the Car Warriors books. From that point I was hooked, snagged up a Red Box Basic set over the summer and we became permanent fixtures of each other's dining room tables all through high school.

For some time, Charles' room was the Mecca of gaming, outside of Crazy Egor showing up at Lehicon. Piles of D&D, TMNT, Star Frontiers, GURPS, random board games galore, it was jammed in some box or shelf. Heck, most new games, outside of Recon were his idea. Up until my skills were tested with a new group in Basic Training he was the mountaintop. All ideas, good, bad, or Megaman, went through him.

By the time high school was over and we found other players and other styles, we decided our playing styles were not compatible anyone (that's the diplomatic way of putting it, and I'm sticking to it).

Now, I do believe even Charles will admit that he can be quite um... well... perhaps dick-ish, maybe he acts like a pompous ass, but sort of in a Sheldon Cooper with people skills way. I've seen him begrudgingly back down after he finally admitted he was wrong (which was rare... the being wrong part, the battles he couldn't win were met with indifference), but I've enjoyed him systematically pick apart a players bold face lies with the morbid glee of a public execution.

I fail to understand why a small handful of people project hate and resentment towards the man. Could he be a dick at times? Sure! But he didn't sleep with anyone's girlfriend, not pay back personal loans, or steal anbody's gaming stuff, and I've still gamed with those people. I would game with him in a second if the opportunity presented itself. Could we co-exist in long-term group? Sure, why not! If the GM can satisfy everyone's need for face time, everyone should be content with their lot.

In fact, I might enjoy it.

Of course, that's before you see this!

Sexy, sexy!

L to R, Scott, Crazy Daryl, Charles, and the sexy guy is Me! When I saw our class picture, now taken over 20 years ago, I first though, "Hey, I was okay lookin' back then." In that row, that's like saying I was the skinniest kid at fat camp. I also had a co-worker note that Daryl and Charles make a US flag with their shirts.

Missing from the pic is Wooly (you can see him in post #8), and George is missing, but as is the last 20 years, that's nothing new.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

(12 Days) #8 Lazy Day... Random Pics of Doom!

Today is my lazy day of the 12 days of blogging.... I have an idea for days 9-12, but 8 maids of milking was not doing it for me... So I present nostalgia!

That's me overseeing the climatic finale of the "college campaign" circa 2000. The cardboard standup of the Thing? That's Baraxus the Destroyer, evil spider god, who has just revealed himself. The Party was not amused when anyone revealed themselves. It just ain't polite.
Pictured (l to r) Dalcin, Albert, me, Matt Bailey, Balls.
Rear view of the same scene. With thousands of figures in the area, we use a LOT of dice to represent troops

This is TOWN (The Other White Nate). He drank a gatorade/vodka mixture in the first hour and wandered around like this for the next two. He spent the remainder of the game passed out on the floor. Ironically, his character Velandro, Defender of Kobold Virginity, was the only PC to die.

East Stroudsburg University, circa 2000. (l to r) Droz, Big Sexy, Scott, a little redheaded boy named Phil, and his even younger looking friend Wooly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

(12 Days) #7 Edible Gaming

Looking for something simple and pic-related today, and I figured it could be my first ever Gnome Wars game. Personally, I was surprised I couldn't find any references to it in older blog posts:

Historicon 2007, Lancaster,PA

Good God, my memory is slipping cause I barely remember going to con, save this game. This might be time we went down for the weekend with my wife and mother in law and stayed at a totally disgusting Comfort Inn, but none of the other pictures of the game ring a bell anymore. I think this is the con where I learned All the King's Men, but again, five Historicons in a row and I'm losing track.

Anyway, I must have had a good time, because by Saturday night Brian Nichols and I were exhausted. Looking through the con book, only game seemed silly and simple enough to get arounnd our exhausted little minds: Gnome Wars. How bad could it be?

They had shoved the game into some back room of the Host that I've never been to before or since, and we caught off guard at two things:
(1) Two kids under ten were the only other players for the game. No problem, if we keep the game going and the kids stay entertained it should be a hoot.
(2) The entire battlefield was edible!

Trees made out of cotton candy, cinnamon sticks and fig newtons! Walls made out of cupcakes! A river of Fruit by the Foot! Barbed wire made up of pretzels and marshmallows! Even the barricades and bridges were made of graham crackers. And the centerpiece of the battlefield was a castle cake!

We each teamed up with kid for some battle between the invading Highlander/British Teddy Bear forces, and the defending Sikhs/Germans.

Teddy Bears Marching to Their Doom!

The rules were basic Gnome Wars, with one delicious exception: regular artillery fire was replaced with a version HG Wells would have loved for Little Wars. We fired mini-marshmallows off of a plastic spoon. Whatever we hit, friend or foe, was removed. If we hit "terrain" we could eat it!

Damage From Artillery Fire

Results were fuzzy, but I remember my Germans holding off the bulk of the invaders and the Sikhs dying to a man but holding off their attackers. The best part were the GMs, who insisted that for reinforcements, healing, etc, we provide a gnome-appropriate pun.

For most players, it got tough after the second or third round. Me?

I hit a gnome run everytime.

It's games like this that make me want to use the teddy bears, frogs, and gnomes in less historical and more fun settings!

Candyland is coming to Miss Maja in a few days from the old fat guy... This will be fun.

No, not me... Santa!

Monday, December 19, 2011

(12 Days) #6 My Imaginary Stats in Real Life

Today, I disclose yet another dark secret of my gaming past. I've already disclosed my unhealthy love for dice baseball, and if I'm running low on material for these, I'll drop some phat stats down on one of the teams I run that will make it sound like I should be on Baseball Tonight.

My friend Phil, who does Adventurous Endeavors is also doing this 12 Blogs of Christmas thing, and I dared him to stat himself out in some crunchy system he possessed. It took some arm turning, but he did pull off a very nice half-orc bard/cavalier/something else for Pathfinder that keeps to the spirit of Phil, and in the spirit of Pathfinder, is decently playable (I think).

Now it's my turn, and I had no difficulty; I just pulled myself right out of the drawer. Secret #1; I've had a GURPS character of myself since 1991, and I've kept in updated semi-regularly.

Sometime in '90-91, I wanted to run a GURPS: Red Dawn. Ah, Red Dawn, where the Soviets invade the US mainland, and the only competent resistance is a bunch of kids with hunting rifles. To make things more ridiculous, I had each player make up a 100-point characters of themselves. Now for those you not in the know, 25 pts is a normal person, 50-75 is above average, and 100 pts is heroic. Where we got the idea that a bunch of nerds who barely held driving permits in the real life could be 100pt heroes, I don't know, but we did it. To make things more absurd, the groups camp site was right behind the Palmer Park Mall, which was being used as a internment camp to boot. I guess it was a case of the 'No one will suspect anything right under their noses!"

I made up a GURPS version of myself to act as a trusted go-between for the rest. I don't know who I was going between for, but I do remember ordering them to assassinate a classmate who was acting as a journalist for the Soviet occupiers. How I allowed a 16-year old boy to get his hands on a Barrett Model 82 Sniper Rifle, I have no clue. Charles with a big gun is a scary thing indeed. He had a +23 bonus to hit his skill check at 13 on 3d6. There was a very messy phone booth in Tatamy after that encounter.

Soon, the appeal of running that genre ran out and we changed to what we now refer to as a the Napalm Death multi-genre-all-in-Easton game. Aliens at the old Pfizer plant, Mad Max-style Thunderdome games in the Easton parking garage. I don't believe we had a strong plot line, but I imagine my in-game version of myself sold the group to othe people as fodder,  and when they succeeded with flair, other groups that were patrons of ours with would fill in the vacuum for power.

I do believe we wrapped up that game well before the end of high school, but I could always use the character as an information contact, rather than the spy I secretly aspired to be.

Secret #2: For years I kept a list of weird dreams I had on my old word processor. No, get your minds out of the gutter, the truly weird sci-fi channel stuff: Walking through a nuclear wasteland, or driving around town with my friend Wooly's dad, until we encounter a black man playing a trumpet, leading a horde of undead down the street (and this was years before I read/played Dead Man Stomp.) When I decided to stop typing them up, I updated that old GURPS sheet to adjust the skill points from the weird experiences. I've done this on-and-off for years, and having caught a bout of I can sleep 6 hours straight since the two kids can now, I started jotting this info down again.

GURPS is a tough enough on skills that it made sense. If I did something that had some effect on the dream, 1/2 point. Something solid to the dream and done competently? 1pt. Something extraodinary? 2+ pts.

Without futher ado, Mr. Eric Jacobson, Regional Man of Mystery

ST: 10 DX: 11 IQ: 13 HT: 12

Advantages: Charisma +2 (I am a helluva guy), Common Sense (I'm constantly warning people in dreams not to do stupid things), Luck (if I survived the Red Dawn game, I have it in spades), Voice, Light Hangover.

Disadvantages: Bloodlust (you don't want me angry, I will finish things with a tire iron to your face), Nearsighted (corrected, as in I have glasses), Gluttony (it is one tasty vice), Stubborness,
Sense of Duty (Friends)

Skills: for skill checks, one rolls 3d6 and roll your skill level or less. These are the skills I've put points into, which means most simple actions are automatic. If I wanted to do something that's not on the list, like speak French or pick a lock, my default skill level is usually IQ or DX -5... or worse. A skill level of 10 is average, 12 rather skilled, 14 well-trained, 16+ expert.

Administration 13 (lots of red tape dreams)
Archaeology 10
Bard 18 (let me...entertain you!)
Boxing 10
Brawling 13
Camoflague 13
Carousing 12
Conspiracy Theory 11
Dancing 10
Diplomacy 13
Driving: Auto 14
Driving: Diesel Locomotive 11 (yep, I operated one down the streets of Palmer.. and survived!)
Economics 10
Engineering 12 (I was desinged some structure that didn't collapse)
English 14 (I am well-spoken, and could be well-read)
Geology 10 (I must have been dreaming Volcano III: Livin' La Lava Loca)
Guns: Pistol 14
Guns: Rifle 14
Guns: SMG 13
Hiking 10
History 13
Hobby: Models 12 (The plastic kind, not the International Super- version)
Intell Analysis 11
Law 10
Occultism 13
Punning 11 (yes, there is a Punning skill, God help us all)
Running 12 (I am healthier in my dreams than in real life)
Savoir Faire 16 (I'm classy helluva guy)
Saxophone 12 (I played one in a dream, can't do it in real life... 1/2 pt)
Scrounging 13
Sex Appeal 14 (I'm kinda a helluva guy... around the ladies, that is)
Sport: Basketball 9 (For some reason I was playing hoops and didn't get killed... 1/2 pt)
Stealth 11
Swimming 10
Survival: Mountains 12
Survival: NBC 13 (Some nuclear holocaust dreams, no one died, so I must know something)Sport: Golf 10 (Tiger Woods y'all... )
Tactics 11
Wrestling 10

and my favorite ones
Area Knowledge: Lehigh Valley 12 (I've only had one dream where I needed to know stuff about the area)

Area Knowledge: South Africa 13 (yet I was intimately involved with some intrigue)
Area Knowledge: Iceland 13 (yes, freakin' Iceland, ladies...)

So, for 146.5 pts in GURPS, you can have the 'dream version' of me, a social animal who occasionally can get around procedure and might survive in a gun fight in Iceland. I'm not the international super-spy, I'm the contact the super-spy meets to obtain the information, and I'm careful enough not to get blown up, killed by a sniper, etc.

Good God, I'm a more competent version of Tom Arnold in True Lies!

I changed my mind, somebody please shoot me with a sniper rifle. Charles?

(edit: It's been so long since I calculated the skill totals, that I completely forgot that Voice gives a +2 to Bard, Savoir Faire, Diplomacy, and Sex Appeal, which have since been adjusted. Oh yeah, you know you gonna dig this!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

(12 Days) #5 The Last Words of Talis Makolin

So, we've covered some of my faults, my big failure, and introduced the world to Echellon, the pigeon raising lesser deity.
I had quickly mentioned the end of that campaign and decided that it would make for a great post for the holidays. Not the blow-by-blow account of the final battle, but more the set-up, and most importantly the epilogue that followed.
If you read yesterday's post, then you know the group was worried about three entities:
  1. A 'Dread Lord' destined to take over the kingdom.
  2. 'Spider People' Arachnid dopplegangers taking over everyone's lives, from nobility to the cleaning staff
  3. The Cult of Apotheosis: This cult was predicting the return of their great leader with a great apocalyptic vision.
In proper final campaign fashion 1 had nothing to do with anything, 3 had been duped by a minor god to seize power, and 2 was loosely allied with said minor god.

I ran the final game at Griffon Games, closing up shop early, and breaking out the booze and food. All the regulars came down, and there was an open invitation for anyone with a character who made an appearance in the campaign to come in and help the party. Hell, I think I invited Matt Bailey, Albert Uliana, and Dalcin, and none of them even played a round!

For a little more information, I'll introduce two characters:

Talis Makolin: Flamboyant ladies man, general bs-er, and every once in awhile was a bard. Half-brother of Echellon from the previous post. He had died during White Plume Mountain, and his player had Kyril, an ass-kicking dwarf for the final game.

Rolf Wolfsblood: Barbarian from the western steppes of Galmer. Quiet but incredibly wise when spoken, he had actually part of the group that was teleported to the world of Talislanta in the middle of the campaign. Before they returned, he had just begun the early tattoing process the Thrall warriors do. As final games go, I believe I hit enough of the important tropes: The group assembles to combat a menace, the great secret is discovered, group is betrayed, numerous NPCs/pcs die, group rallies back to win the day.

That, and for about 15 minutes of game time, the ruler of the civilized world was a dwarf named Norm Dingleberry.

The epilogue for the campaign I did in the style of Raising Arizona, sort of floating through scene to scene.

First I started with the awards, royal decrees, and titles the group was bestowed upon from various countries, then funerals of their lost friends.

I then moved forward a bit, families were started, then I moved to a scene involving a monastery for lawful good kobolds (a huge deal from almost the beginning of the campaign, and then I covered each of the characters who went solo seeking adventure, helping their people, or just wanting to be left alone.

But in a final vision, most of the group is back at the Chateau d'Echellon celebrating a great feast. Most of the pcs are there seated at the main table, some with grown family members, npcs both large and small importance are standing behind them. At the head of the table is Echellon himself, much older, but still recognizable. It is his last meal with his friend as his god as told him it's time to take up his duties as God of the Sea... and Pigeons. There is much rejoicing at the table, both pcs and players.

At that point, I threw the group off track. Instead of ending it at that point, the visions moved to a dingy tavern in a village that's barely the size of their dot on the map. A group of small children are surrounding a scruffy middle-aged man telling a story. He reeked of alcohol and depression. A tall muscular man covered in furs, his face a mixture of age, scars and tattoos, walks into the tavern and towards the crowd.

"That's it for now, lads. When you can scrounge up a couple more coppers to quench Talis' thirst, I'll tell you about what happened after we went down the rapids from Silver Valley."

"But Talis, you already told us that story."

"yeah, i want to know how came back to life!"

"But I didn't die, I was rescued!"

"No, you weren't. you said you fell into the mud and the group left you for dead!"

"Enough now kids," barked the tall man, "get outta here"

The kids scattered, and the tall man slumped down in the chair besides Talis. Talis took one last swig of backwashed grog from his flagon, and asked, "Rolf, the farmers will be in here any moment, ya wanna go their homes and screw their wives again?"

Rolf was not amused, "Talis, you really want to spend the rest of your pitiful life screwing the fat old wives of farmers and making kids steal money to hear bullshit stories of things that we never did? They think we're actual heros, for Akana's sake! And here you are, deluding them with your imaginary tale."

Talis paused for a moment from staring blankly at the table and said, "Rolf, it is an imaginary tale, which may or may not be true. It's a story about a bunch of young guys who came to a small village to seek their fortune. By luck and by talent they made a name for themselves and had the chance to travel to exotic lands, met fantastic people, and became heroes because of it. They met the forces of evil head on, and despite all their gallantry, some of their friends fell. Not all of them made it to the happy ending, but they all tried to make in happen, dammit. They brought hope to the people, and just like them, these kids today need hope. We may have died inside years ago, but there's no way these kids need to know that. Of course it's an imaginary story.... aren't they all?"

*fade to black*

Saturday, December 17, 2011

(12 Days) #4 The Death of Echellon

So, yesterday's post tried to address my biggest failure I've dealt with as a gamemaster, and it was tough. Not that I'm perfect, but I do my best to roll with the punches and adapt to the disasters presented to me. I am serious when I tell you it took three days to figure out what exactly could be construed as a disaster.

As promised, I bring you the death of Echellon.
Echellon was a cleric during my college campaign, run by my roommate Steve. After ten years, I know Steve can't run a completely straight character and Echellon was my baptism by fire.

Born out of the brothel in a trade town, Echellon was enslaved by pirates. While aboard one of their vessels, he was befriended by a fellow slave named Mohammed. Mohammed taught him everything about the Chinese god of the sea Tshang kai Ching. Together they plotted to escape the ship and set up a monastery to raise pigeons. As they jumped ship and swam to shore, Mohammed was attacked by a shark! In the commotion, the pirates fired their catapult at the distrubance, hitting the shark and sending both the shark and Mohammed to the bottom of the sea. Echellon got away and began tending numerous animals, continuing his love for pigeons.

That was the back story I got to work with when Steve introduced the character. As to be expected, Echellon wasn't your stereotypical hero, but he was competent comic relief:

He had accumulated a menagerie of animals, including portable coops of pigeons, all of this BEFORE the left the town to explore their first dungeon, The Temple of Alasku. Afraid to leave his travelling show, he stayed above ground to guard the animals and provisions while the rest of the group made their descent.

When the party released Carthon, a gruff looking fighter, from the prison of the Dread Lord, he ran upstairs to find Echellon and the parade of biology. Echellon begrudgingly gave him some provisions and soon Carthon was tending to the animals for pay.

Echellon had not even been in his first fight yet, and already had a hireling/retainer.

In later adventurers, a strange alignment of magic spells and area effects allowed for Echellon to befriend a wolf, and soon thereafter find out he had a telepathic link with him. Pathfinder was a loyal sidekick for the entire campaign, and again, Echellon got campaign bonuses due to a fluke.

Soon the team of Echellon and Pathfinder roamed the area, occasionally even looking for adventure. Carthon tended to more and more coops of pigeons, along with the help of a homeless boy named Timoth, and the group finally got a big adventure, direct from the High Priest of Akana, the state religion, to evict a rogue priest from their compound. I'll spare the details, but let's say the entire party got teleported far, far away, fought gods, prevented invasions, and discovered a dastardly plot involving spider dopplegangers which took months. When they finally got back to the village which was their home base, all trace of Carthon, Timoth, and the animals were gone. A few miles outside of town, the group passed a homestead where a very clean Timoth, and well-feed Pathfinder burst out the front door.

Echellon last's words to Carthon before embarking on their journey, "If I don't come back soon, sell off the pigeons and make sure Timmy's taken care of."

Echellon might have been misguided and self-centered at times, but he wasn't a complete dick.

Echellon had been raising a certain type of pigeon that fetched a pretty penny when they turned into adults. His love of pigeons prevented him from selling any, but following his last words, Carthon turned a ridiculous profit on them which bought them the homestead. The Chateau d'Echellon was created.

At another time I'll be happy to talk about It's a Wonderful Reunion, how the group nearly burnt down the village to avoid a Spider People infestation in the noble ranks, how he discovered he was the half-brother to the party bard, Talis Makolin, or how he became defacto Baron of Eding,

After all that backstory, let's get to the dude's death.

Prophecy had a huge impact on the campaign: The Cult of Apotheosis appeared day one and always lingered in the back story. A wee bit fantatical, but nice guys to have around if you needed food and shelter, so as you let them tell you about their God/King/Spirit/Tuesday Night Bowling Buddy who was coming back soon to reunite the world... SOON! The group didn't even freak out when random fortune tellers, random diviners, and little old ladies off the street would tell them that they were the chosen ones in the battle of the apocalypse. Standard adventuring fare at best.

They did begin to seriously take heed when they came upon an estate auction of a random scholar/wizard. Droz's character Ashe had won a bid on a giant oil painting that would look great over the hearth in the Chateau d'Echellon. When the painting got clean up and hung, the group gasped. There was an odd mountain spewing steam and a team of adventurers standing on another mountain, observing. The members of that party looked a lot like members of the group: Ashe, the half-elf ranger, Norm Dingelberry, simpleton dwarf, and Echellon. What other dude would wander the mountains with a brown sackcloth robe and a trident?

Soon, the research and taverhopping began to find out the legend. The mountain was said to contain three weapons of massive power that the chosen ones would obtain to fight in the impending apocalypse. The group bought into the idea, and prepared a journey to White Plume Mountain to try to find the weapons.

Then Echellon had to up and die.

No review is necessary, The Mark of Amber is a sucky module, but I needed some filler to accomodate a few weeks of low attendance, a weekday desire to get in some extra time to game, etc. During the adventure the PCs were caught in a dream sequence and a mind flayer ate Echellon's brain. After the remaining PCs escaped the dream state, they discovered that Echellon was completely gone, vanished. Nothing.

And with the recent MIA status of Ashe, the Chosen Ones within the party of destiny had been whittled down to a nose picking dwarf warrior a la a smart Ralph Wiggum.

I was willing to continue as is, propehcy is always subject to interpretation, the world was a big place to adventure, and the apocalypse wasn't even going to formally begin for a few months of real time.

Then Steve broke me with his new character.

"I'm going to play a really old guy, 85+. He's been a cleric his whole life, but the problem is, he's a half-orc and they max out at 4th level. "

Why I allowed such a character concept, including the hitting of 'young whippersnappers' with his cane, falling asleep at the wrong times, and completely doing something absurd during the goods times, I'll never know. He did, however fall within the guidelines I provided Steve (-2 levels from the character who died, no more than one stat at 18, only 2,000xp worth of magic items).

Ozark the half-orc cleric was the hyperpole of comic relief. It was almost painful to get through a full session, even with the laughter and good times. Ozark could easily kill off the party through his geriatric incompetence.

Echellon needed to come back, because I feared what Steve's 3rd concept for a character could be.

Even with the bumbling half-orc, I upped the ante with the cults, the apocalypse, and the personal implications they caused to the PCs. The party got back on the save the universe bandwagon and off to White Plume Mountain they went, to get the battle axe Overslayer for Norm, and pray they could find a ranger and a dude proficient in trident to use the other two weapons.

The timing in the dungeon is sketchy after more than ten years, but I think they went for the battle axe first. There was a deep pit full of hot bubbling mud and a series of small wooden discs attached to ropes to get across. Talis the only rogue in the party and only guy with a decent dex tried to get across to help stabilize them and get the rest of the party across. Talis, a suave ladies man, a man who went from legend in his own mind to budding legend, the man who was the party's leader with the loss of Echellon, failed his rolls miserably and fell into the muddy pits, completely unrecoverable.

Some of the group did manage to make it across, defeat the vampire and find the battle axe. The room was subdued, save for Hoyce, the man running Talis. He was in shock, betrayed, and angry, and if I learned anything from kicking his ass at Samurai Swords, no one ever wants an angry Hoyce.

With the party leader gone, the group flopped around the second part of the dungeon looking for the trident. Party cohesion had disentigrated when the party encounted a giant 100+ hp crab. When all seemed lost, a huge flash appeared in the underground cavern, a clap of thunder, and the giant crab was struck down by a man holding a trident.

After months away, his spirits communing with his god, Echellon was returned to Georic by Shiang kai Ching. Ozark had already been conveniently killed in the crossfire.

I guess it worked out. Echellon was back to lead the mini-legion of good (more like a cabal of people who disliked evil), but the face of the game turned grim. Hoyce's new character, a dwarf named Kyril, was all business, and only made attachments with the group through loyalty. Characters were dropping like flies as the evil spread across the vally.

I do question the return of Echellon. I was hoping the over-the-top nature of the character would infect itself within the party again, but I hadn't realized that that particular chapter in the campaign may had ended with a kobold mariachi band many months earlier (yes, a kobold mariachi band). Even if I hadn't planned on the campaign ending at a certain point, the game had evolved, and I should have just killed off Ozark, in a humane and fair way. This wasn't some stupid series of novels where everyone always gets away scott-free. This had been a realistic campaign full of quasi heroes trying to figure out how to become legends, or at least not die.

Hoyce has only told me that the death of Talis sucked. Truth be told, he would have made an awesome Hackmaster character, but the restrictive nature of 1e/2e crippled an awesome character mechanically.

After everything was said and done, the evil had been discovered and vanquished, peace spread across the lands for a few more years, and Echellon even ascended into godhood.

In the end, Talis did get the final words of the campaign in a nod of respect towards the character. And that is where we'll turn for tomorrow's post "The Reality of Imaginary Stories"

Or maybe I'll just talk about ducks.

Friday, December 16, 2011

(12 Days) #3 My Biggest Failure as a GM

This post is by request from Phil @ .

Phil asks, "How about talking about your biggest failure running a game of all time?"

Excellent question, Phil. First off, I have to figure out how to define outright abject failure.

It's not your players refusing to take the bait of an adventure hook, getting sidetracked, or even letting a game/campaign fade away from indifference. Those things happen all the time.

I'm not counting the following things as failures, but I'll bring them up for the discussion.

  • Misinterpreting rules (half-elves backstabbing with polearms in high school, forgetting the casting time of Call Lightning in 2nd Edition, and even misreading rules for Legions of Steel that I demo'ed over and over again). Most times, it did not hinder play, rather it added to the player's enjoyment. We noted the corrections and moved on.

  • Not being able to run an all-evil campaign that I inherited with over-powered munchkin characters is not a failure. We tried to co-exist. Our playing styles conflicted, and we parted ways amicably. There's no "Evil Campaign" merit badge for a GM to earn.

  • Some campaigns just whimper out of existence, no matter how good the game was. My AD&D "Army Reserves Campaign" from the mid-90's slowly disentigrated until it was down to two PCs. Even then, both characters final actions impacted the future campaigns of Georic, and elf characters who played afterwards should laud the actions of Torm and Markoos. It was far, far worse back in the day.

  • It's also not a failure to not get a game running. If that were the case I'd be failure two dozen times over. Lack of enthusiasm, and sometimes real life, was bound to kill Mouse Guard, another Hackmaster campaign, Battlelords of the 23rd Century, or even my homebrew campaigns, City-State of Kathad and "Home." If I get the chance, I'll run them in a heartbeat, it's not as if my notes disappeared from existence.

Regrets don't count as failure in my book, and I've had a few.

Convention Games? The fact that I wasn't charged with the murder of Jim Schwar after years of Bogglecon events means all games were acceptable.

I do regret that I had gone 27 hours without sleep before I ran my friend Droz's Harpers game at Lehicon 5.

I regret not prepping enough for my IOU LARP at the Garden States Game Faire in '96. I had no idea what I was doing, various groups were using different systems to resolve conflict, and we threw Kris Kunkel into the hotel pool and drenched the RPGA tables... in game. FUBAR yes, but not a failure.

I regret that I didn't pursue an advanced degree in GURPS-Fu. GURPS was the 1st backup game behind D&D in high school. We ran numerous genres and I have my Napalm Death campaign in a near and dear part of my heart. My friend Charles was the number cruncher, so his understanding of bonuses and tech levels made some games unbalanced. With my ignorance of more of the metagaming side, a few combats were woefully unbalanced towards the PC side. This lack of GURPS-Fu, combined with years of rust, was the reason I adapted Illuminati University (IOU) to Risus and didn't stick with GURPS. It is easier to play when your in a darkening backyrard during the Day of Sloth and only have four stats to reference.

My biggest fault? (not failure) I can easily be controlled by a dominant player. Charles in high school, Dalcin in the Army Game, Steve from College, and Hoyce in the Hackmaster game, even Chris in the evil game dominated the forfront. This isn't to say that I haven't tried to improve my technique by diverting the attention to other players. Outside of a female thief in Hackmaster, who didn't take any intiative when I handed it to her (she just wanted to get impregnated by the Nubian warrior), I've done well spreading the attention and deflecting the dominating personalities, but an unworthy player/pc could get a half hour or more of time dedicated to them without blinking an eye, if they're just louder than the rest of the group.

But FAILURE? That would be my handling of "THE DEATH OF ECHELLON", but I'll save that tomorrow's post.

In the words of the great philosopher Homer, "D'oh!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(12 Days) #2 Bumbles Bounce and Bunnies Wander

Day Two and I better start giving out much love to my fellow gnomies. Today's shout out goes to Gnomie Fanatic #1, Mr Michael Lung. The man's work at sculpting, modifying, and kitbashing has earned him his own tag on this blog, a quasi-consistent series of gallery posts, and post #2 for his bunny herding.

When I was looking for a semi-solitaire system for the sheep herders during my Battle of yellowstone game, Mike was already working on a gnome verion of a solitaire game from Wargames Illustrated #27. While my game's version was very basic and had removed sheepdogs from the equation, Mike had expanded his rules to include a lovable.. er... abominable chap:

Oh, yes, Bunnies and Bumbles, the second favorite running title for TSRs original rpg. Basically the lone peasant herds some randomly moving bunnies around, with the assistance of one or two dogs. It's a nice one or two player game to fill in a small time slot. With the Bumble, it adds an extra level of drama. Fight off the Bumble, or scramble to save whatever of flock remains. Or let the dogs take the fall and dash across the board. I'll see what I can do about posting the rules, with Mike's permission of course.

Don't know the make of the dogs in the photo, or the all of the bunnies, but I will point out the bunny pen made out of a basket. I can imagine a nice Easter game using marshmallow peeps.

He's also made a Smurf soccer that's more tactical and straightforward than a bloody version of Smurf Bowl.

One day I would love to see him run a game at an HMGS con, not just as a very special guest star who brings a billion zombie gnomes to the con. He's tried his hand at sculpting, and if the Znombies are any indication, he shouldn't stop. He may even bring a super special surprise or two to Cold Wars.

As his sculpting improves, I know I'll be inquiring about what odd ranges people would be interested in buying. Armed with that knowledge, I can bug Lon at Brigade to release a few Znombies or other sculpts. If done right, it can be a win-win for all of the Gnome Gnation.

Anyway, Merry Christmas Mike!

I'm still waiting for Sherlock Gnomes....

(Update: I talked to Mike and got his permission and blessing to post the Bunny Herding Rules on here, on the condition that Wargames Illustrated and the author of the original article get credit. I don't anticipate any cease and desist letters from WI because (a) it's rules for herding animals, unless (b) Flames of War: Cattle Drive is being released in 2012.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

(12 Days) #1 When Goalie Fights Get Serious

Here's the first post in the guaranteed 12 straights with something simple: Fantasy Hockey. No I'm not trading Sidney Crosby for a defensemen and the Winnipeg Defense. Orcs, Elves, and Ratmen on ice!

There's always rats on the ice in these games

Rules written by Jim Stanton, figures available by Brigade Games, Photos by and minis painted by Jim. Mix Blood Bowl and Hockey and you Hockey!

I don't think anyone wants to crash the net this guy is defending.

(Edit: I let Lon at Brigade know that the Fantasy Hockey minis aren't displaying at under the Brigade Games Tab on the left hand side of the page. Hopefully that will be remedied soon.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Twelve Days of Blogging... Coming Soon!

I've noticed on a few of the blogs I follow "The Twelve Days of Blogging" or "The Twenty Days of Blogging." Basically, an entire to consistently make blog entries into the holidays. While I don't care about the one blogger getting a dog, or the wife screaming about dishes piling up, it does ensure that something out of the ordinary gets posted.

So, I will succumb to peer pressure, and guarantee a 12 Days of Blogging, starting December 14th, and finishing on Christmas Day. No guarantee about the quality or type of blogs, and yes, I'm pretty certain 90% of my Christmas Day blog will be finished tonight and set to post on the 25th. I have two small kids and a horde of relatives showing up. I love my little gnomie fanatics that follow the blog, but a man still must be practical.

As always, suggestions for particular topics will be accepted, although it will take a major snowstorm or the wife and kids go on vacation without me before I finish episode #10 of my Call of Cthulhu game, "Suffer Little Children". Perhaps some Hackmaster/D&D stories from the past?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sir Michael Caine Kicks Ass in 28mm!

Okay, here's yet another post promoting some more Warlord love that I simply can not afford.

This time is the release of the Rorke's Drift Horns of the Buffalo Collector's Set.

Everything that was offered in the previous set, plus the Mealie Bag Redoubt, Kraal Wall, Water Closet, Cookhouse Ovens, and piles of other miscellany. All for only £275.00! Somebody find me a ski-mask and a British 7-11 to rob, please!

The real piece de resistance that made my jaw drop with a resounding "FUUUUUUUUH!" was the inclusion of the movie versions of the characters from classic 1964 film "Zulu."

Oh yeah, nothing like a little Michael Caine (literally!) kicking ass and taking names, not just at Rorke's Drift but showing up in any other Zulu War battle, or better yet, some Victorian Sci-Fi Game. Mars watch out!

Seriously, when can I just order these four?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Battlelords on Twitter

So, Battlelords of the 23rd Century has gone all Twitty, er... I mean Twitter. The Facebook game I had mentioned in Beta Testing? It's up and running on Twitter.

I fooled around with it on my viscounteric Twitter account (don't check it out, I haven't updated in months). It was enjoyable to remininsce about Ram Pythons again, but it's a Bot23C flavored version of Mafia/Vampire/Smurf/Sorority Wars.

I still have a downtown to clear in Zombie Lane and that involves visual gunfire!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rorke's Drift Boxed Set pics

I've already covered my unnatural lust for Warlord's Rorke's Drift boxed set here.

Today on TMP, Warlord showed the box. And like some rabid fanboy, I'm posting just those pics here:

It's a lot of painting, and they've already said there would be increased shipping cost abroad for this item, but if someone could magically donate £150.00 to the viscounteric non-charity fund, I'll figure out the conversion to pay the wacky S&H.

Monday, December 5, 2011

(Cold Wars) The Second Samoan Civil War?

Here's the event I'll be running Saturday morning:

The Battle of Apaula Heights
During the Spanish-American War, the U.S.S. Charleston obtained the complete surrender of Guam with only a landing party and thirty minutes of negotiations. In this what-if scenario, the Charleston and the three troop transports it was escorting are rerouted to Samoa instead, to support the rebels in the Second Samoan Civil War and forcibly remove German and the BrItish interests there. 8 players (room for 10)

Okay, I admit that my love for the obscure is going overboard now. I mean, how many times has either Samoan Civil War been played at an HMGS con, much less anywhere else?

Truth be told, I had been planning on fighting the Capture of Guam (link) using the Germans as the colonial masters of the island. That would be a challenging game. Fifty-four Germans, four pieces of artillery vs three troop transports of Americans (Northerner) and the USS Charleston's guns for support. I still think the Germans have a chance, if they prepare correctly. However, I don't know if we'll have enough Americans to run the game. I can't imagine more than a unit of cav to be on the board.

The Samoan allows me more troop variation. Sorry, no Polynesian gnomes quite yet. The Samoans, both loyalist and rebel, will be proxied by Swiss, as they are the default gnome for any nationality. British Marines/Highlanders will be used in an alliance of survival with the Germans.

The best thing of all, since we are running three different boards at Cold Wars, I have three different scenarios runninng in my head. And they all can work with few issues.

This being said, I'm working on two different pages currently. There will be a Gazetteer of the Gnomish Americas, covering some fun optional units to use your American gnomes. Texas Rangers, the Desert Theocracy of Utah, and other options other than Union blue and rebel grey.

The second is a history and battles of the German-American War. The war's name is a misnomer. While Northerners will be fighting Germans on their colonies of Cuba, Port Wilhlem, they were trying to avoid a full-blown hot war with the South again. The entire Pacific campaign that schoolchildren only associate with Dewey and the Phillipines was an expansive seroius of amphibious assaults on German and British colonies involving the California Imperial Navy and the Royal Liholiho Marines from the Kingdom of Hawaii. This should be fun

Friday, December 2, 2011

(Cold Wars) Prepping at the underground bunker...

I can't make too many comments, but I've been in communication about Cold Wars with Jim and the rest of Team Gnome, or the Gnome Gnation, or whatever we're called (It's not like we have t-shirts or anything official). I'll wait for the PEL to be published to reveal the "official" games, but let's use three words:




While Saturday Gnome Wars games are the epitome of organized chaos, I do believe that Saturday afternoon at Cold Wars will outshine them all. On three separate tables at the same time.

Trust me, it will be awesome.

With that finalized, I have a week to scramble to put my little event in for Saturday morning. The Battle of Yellowstone went over pretty good at Fall-in. For this con I need to do a little research, but I believe it will be American troops (with French "advisors") seizing a German coaling station in the South Pacific. Not as historically accurate as the US Cav in Yellowstone, a great what-if game for 6-8 players.

I'll try to squeeze sometime in this weekend for some solid details to submit my event, but I'm on family mode all weekend with trips to Christmas lights, and "The World's largest 30+mm battlefield." Others just call it Roadside America, in Shartlesville, PA.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

(Nostalgia) The Garden State Games Faire Lives... kinda

On TMP, there was a topic: "What was your favorite convention ever?" I obviously answered Lehicon IV, as I had previously documented here. That began a google search at work for new references to Lehicon in any form, and holy crap a new one appeared:

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the official site for the Garden State Games Faire 1997 (or GSGF II for those who prefer con numbering). I'm amazed this site is even up after 14 years, and it brings back memories, not necessarily all great ones.

First off, I'll start off with a mention of Wizard's Cove, a little dump of a store in Bangor, PA. Unlike others, I won't trash to place as a dive store full of derelicts... at least at the beginning. We all have dreams of running a store and Tony, the owner, was no different. And despite all his faults and poor decisions, he only made two serious disasterous decisions: he opened up a store in Bangor, PA, the pimple in the armpit of Pennsylvania, and he associated himself with a man I will only refer to as "Stinky Chris."

Before the fall of the "The Cove," we had a crazy idea to run our own con. A con that wouldn't focus on D&D and Magic, but intead focus on all the third-tier games we loved, with a healthy dose of Battletech and other games. We assembled our funds, rented the Blue Valley Farm Show building and began promoting CoveCon. We met some stiff resistance from stores who refused to post our fliers, stating they didn't want to promote a competitor in the stores. Fair enough, but who from Allentown would normally travel an hour to Bangor to regularly buy gaming, when Cap's, Comic Masters, Comic Vault, heck even Dreamscape had vastly superior selection and turnaround time for orders. Again, I digress...

The full story of the con day I'll leave to another post, but needless to say my friend Andy Dawson had approached me about a dealer who wanted to come up last second. I said sure and I met Ron Meischker.

Ron owned the Game Trader in Hightstown, New Jersey. He was a shrewd businessman, a cheap businessman, and most people could tolerate his presence for only short periods of time, but by God, did he have store stock that made even Crazy Egor's look twice. Plus the games auctions he ran at the cons "everything starting at a buck!" were legendary.

CoveCon broke even, Andy and his cohort ran a Lehigh Valley Games Faire which did quite well, and then Andy and Ron truly joined forces to form the Garden State Games Faire '96 in Princeton.

Short-short story: the con was a blast and I ran an epic Illuminati University LARP that deserves its own post.

After all this, what does this have to do with GSGF II? Well, for starters, up until google discovered the site this afternoon, I had completely forgotten it had even existed!

It should have been a memorable con, just look at the events. Raven's Bluff. Multiple 40k and Magic tournaments. Role-playing games that would make me drool if they were in a con listing today, AD&D Land of the Exotic and Erotic notwithstanding. There were multiple Galactic Empires tournaments fer chrissakes, and people who wanted to come to just play Galactic Empires!

The Lehigh Valley had been tapped for GMs and they were all good: Kris Kunkel, Scott Lesher, Bob Bednar, Joe Ward, Mike Griffith, Ed Guerrero, Jen Bullwinkel, Jack Mishko, Phil Carson, Eric Pierson, Todd Furler, Ed Karl for Battletech, Larry Lewis running Magic. If I only had those people available to run events at a con, I would put even more of my own money into it, because I could guarantee that it would rock. Even I was scheduled to run Illuminati: New World Order tourneys and a sequel to my epic GURPS: IOU game that had the Village People in it.

It had all the internal factors for a fantastic con.

The external forces made it implode.

My memories after 14 years of forgetfulness are sketchy, but the first two issues: it was a con on Thanksgiving weekend and I believe it snowed. Then there were the no-shows. I hadn't shown up because 1997 sucked. I had lost the girl, the car, the apartment, and the dog too if we had had one, and was adrift in a sea of suck until the Spring semester at ESU started. I had no funds to get down there, no arrangements for lodging, and I failed to professionally bail out. And apparently I wasn't the only one. I remember this feeling of nastiness from the con staff and other gamers from those who actually made the trip. Anyone with better memories, please fill me in. But I do believe that that officially killed any future GSGFs.

That, and Ron going to jail for mail fraud, my recollections of that are even fuzzier (probably a lot like his books).