Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Calm Before the Insanity

It's been a crazy summer, and an even crazier fall on the family front. My mother in law has been in the hospital for the last month, going through a series of complications that ultimately resulted in a valve replacement down at University of Pennsylvania Hospital. She recovering nicely, and may even be home by the weekend, but it's been a lot of traveling, especially for my wife. Compound this with trying to refinance the house, dealing with two girls under four, and me getting everything squared away for my new job, September would be a disaster if I was selfish and considered gaming.

There are two shining stars book ending the month. The first was the Risus: Illuminati University game run at the Day of Sloth. The second is hopefully my Cthulhu game this Saturday.

It's going to be a tight fit in the Monongahela Love Shack, set in an undisclosed location in Eastern Pennsylvania. As a Keeper I now have EIGHT players and a mobile dynamic to keep the game moving. I predict death, a possible dose of insanity, but no dynamite.

Tonight my 3-1/2 year old daughter Maja wanted to "read" my Mouse Guard books, but for numerous reasons I told her no. I later found her with my wife, telling stories out of another book, this time my hardcover of Masks of Nylarahotep. She's also convinced that she would have a better time with Daddy and his friends playing games, than a long-planned sleepover with her best friend Saturday night.

Guess I'll need to set up some late night gaming sessions... For the under 4 and over 30 groups.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wooden Wars Kickstarter

I've heard from enough people that have already reached Kickstarter minis overload and they haven't even received a single mini yet. I'm on the opposite part of the spectrum; despite all my oohs and aahs, not a single penny has been pledged. Im having enough trouble priming and painting a half dozen items from eBay, much less a shipping container of product.

If money were no object, I would not pledge any money to this next project, rather, I would fund everything out of my own pocket.

Wooden Wars

Laser cut wooden block toy soldiers, using a system akin to HG Wells' Little Wars. Firing is conducted throwing a rubber ball, and thanks to the wooden poses (rimshot), players don't need to freak out over custom paint jobs getting ruined.

This appeals to my base sensibilities as a wargamer, starting when I was five. The armies are sturdy, play is simple to execute, and this something for ages 4 to 84 to have fun with.

While the majority of figures are Napoleonic, they are working on Victorian Sci-Fi figures, including mechanical steeds, Tesla cannons, and Venusian robots.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

NYC Cthulhu #12: They Sleep By Twilight

November 22, 1923
"Mother said there'd be days like this,"  Jessica Carson thought to herself as she slowly leafed through her husband's files."No, as a matter of fact, she had no freaking clue."

Surely, not even a guilt filled Irish mother could imagine that in one quick year, her unmarried daughter would go from small town school teacher (with a checkered past) to the talk of New York City... and a widow.

It had been two weeks since she had last seen her husband, in the underground catacombs somewhere under the Revio Theater. Two weeks since a full block of Off Broadway theaters had been leveled in an explosion caused by a crazed magician. Two weeks since she had discovered the Mayor's kidnapped daughter, Maureen and became an instant celebrity. It had been a tough and confusing two weeks.
After the media frenzy, the public appearances with Mayor Hylan, the rabid debate on if a woman should have played a roll in such a dangerous operation to begin with, Jessica went back to her roll as a schoolteacher, stopping into JP's office at nights to try to piece together just what happened to her life.  

While packing up files and cleaning up, the office phone rang. Robert Carrington was on the line, looking for JP. After a few moments of awkward realization that he had read the whole story in the paper, he presented his offer to Jessica.

He had an associate that was looking for an investigator to deal with a questionable patient. For two months teacher's salary, Jessica was willing to moonlight into her husband's profession.

Carrington was still a respectable gentleman, so he offered one of his associates to drive her around town. When Byron Clarkson knocked on her door, it seemed like an odd pairing, a very "British" race car driver under majority sponsorship of Carrington for next year's Indianapolis 500. They jumped into his roadster and drove over to Dr Joseph Pendleton's office,

Dr Pendleton appeared shaky and paranoid, avoiding pleasantries while going with a direct "Were you followed?"

Only after the duo stated that no one tailed them did the doctor continue.

One of his patients, a Meg Telly, was scheduled to give birth sooner, and he worried of her and her husband Ken's intentions towards the baby. Meg had a strange tattoo and Ken constantly asked which day the baby was coming. That, coupled a few coincidences and a deformed fetus on x-ray made the doctor worry that the couple was involved in some strange cult. The duo's was to provide evidence to prove or disprove the good doctor's worries, and whether or not the doctor should terminate the pregnancy.

Byron was taken aback by the doctor's bluntness, especially with how deranged the whole situation sounded. Jessica was only worried about the doctor's medical record (impeccable) and off they went.
Jumping into the roadster, the pair headed off to Brooklyn to the Telly Service Station. It was owned by Meg's father in law and was where her husband Ken was employed. The senior Telly greeted the car at the gas pump and struck up a conversation about cars with Byron. Jessica asked for a rest room and did a cursory search of the building, finding no clues.

Upon leaving, they determined a more thorough search under cover was needed. That was, Jessica demanded it, and her driver could only agree, with a side trek to the Carrington estate. If some questionable activities were to be committed, he sure wasn't going to use his roadster in a bad section of Brooklyn in the middle of the night. Carrington's older hudson might blend in a bit better, plus he would be above the law if anything bad should happen.

With their new wheels, they headed back the service station. Upon ditching the Hudson safely, they picked the lock, staged a scene to make it look like a smash and grab burglary and went about the place. The search netted them little, save a calendar in the garage bay with each Wednesday circled with the letters "IHME" written inside.

A bit dejected, Jessica decided to leave, Byron wanting nothing more than ending this bizarre night of lawbreaking, but they had barely gotten towards one of the bridges to go back to Manhattan when the duo realized that they had never searched the numerous cars behind the station!

A quick u-turn and they were back. Some quick lock picking and they discovered a robe, some candles, incense, a silver bell, and a gold dagger in the trunk of one of cars. A much more relieved pair headed back to personally deliver the evidence to the doctor, even at that late hour. The evidence received and money exchanged, Carrington's associates soon went their separate ways, in Byron's opinion, not a moment too soon from these crazy people.

It was around mid-December when Jessica found Dr Pendleton's name in the newspaper. He had been arrested for performing three abortions while in the middle of the delivering perfectly healthy children in the month of December. Jessica began to question if a robe, a fancy dagger, and a weird x-ray were enough to justify his actions in November. Perhaps there were facets of her husband's profession that a novice couldn't pick up on the fly.

They Sleep By Twilight is from Worlds of Cthulhu Magazine #5

Next Cthulhu Session:  The main group takes much desired vacation... to South Dakota in the Winter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mordheim's Warhounds Reborn

I've been perusing Center Stage Miniatures since I found out about their Demons & Devils Kickstarter (ps, they already hit their first stretch goal.  It might not end up as big as Reapers, but it's worth a look.)  A lot of classic poses inspired by AD&D art (love the peryton).  They also are the exclusive distributor of Secret Skeleton Miniatures, a small company out of Kansas that has nine figures to its name.

While the figures look good as well, the warhound stood out the most.

It brought back flashbacks of Mordheim, and watching the Griffon Games campaign go to the dogs.  War Hounds were an easy go to for most players.  Sure, they would never advance or use missile weapons, and they were useless against some of the magical/chaos forces, but in a game where speed and melee were king, the dogs were worth every penny.

Sure, it's missing more spikes than a high school punk rocker wannabe, but that looks like an animal that would thrive in a Warpstone covered city.

$4.75 each

Monday, September 17, 2012

Type III Kickstarter

There's dozens of game/miniature projects on Kickstarter, so why did Center Stage's catch my eye?

Well, if wasn't the minis.  I have plenty of demon/devil-like minis that I never use, even if they have that traditional gaming look:

It's not the sexy succubus at the $3500 stretch goal.  That was old a decade ago with Reaper.

And it's not the reasonable pledge point ($75) for the stretch goals to turn it into a bargain.  Again, no need to more demons/devils, even if we're talking about old school pit fiends.

The great thing about their fundraising is that a tiny $5 pledge nets product.  Not just any product, but two of their Advanced Fantasy Miniatures, sculpted by Julie Guthrie.

Oh  yeah,  you saw that right.  Center Stage has acquired some of the old Grenadier classics and these will be the first eight released  Two figs for five bucks (shipping included) is a bargain, plus, if  you want another two?  Just add another $5 to the pledge.

The other thing that tickles my fancy is that the stretch goals will make the classic demons out of the old DMG.  Not just Pit Fiends, Lemures, and Manes, but the favorite head scratcher of DMs back in the day, TYPE I-VI Demons!  I swear that these were made by someone years ago, but these will probably be far better.

Check out Center Stage Kickstarter for more info and Center Stage Minis for the company.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Gnome Listings at Brigade

I'm probably so late to the party on this one that I'm drinking with the cleaning staff, but Brigade Games has updated their website with some of the new gnome releases from Historicon.

The Znombies are officially official!  A ten figure unit of the walking gnomes available for $35.00.  This is a pic of the German Znombies Mike Lung was working on prior to casting, with some of the Swiss figs that come in the unit as well.

Also available are Swiss casualties, one on its side (pictured above), and one face down. A two pack of them is $5.00, with a discounted rate for multiple sets.

The new Orangemen releases are listed as well.  Chaplain (medic) and Standard Bearer are $4.50 each, and the drummer is $4.00.

Znombie Shambling Horde (10)

Gnome Casualties (2)


Saturday, September 15, 2012

(Stat Crunch) Masks of Nyarlahotep

Masks is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Cthulhu campaigns. As most people who have played CoC have fond memories of The Haunting, most players who have played at least one published campaign have had their investigators rue the day that they received that telegram in New York City.

Masks is gigantic, both geographically and in the scope of the evil involved. Of course, experienced players will be able to roll with the non-Euclidean punches better than novices, but what of the actual investigators?

Many Keepers start with a fresh batch of characters to run this, but is that wise? Yes, it's a meat grinder at points, but using established characters allows for a comfort level to use contacts, patrons, and the like, rather than pulling ideas out of thin air.

Plus, allowing, say, five sessions of experience will allow for necessary skill increases needed for competency/survival. Academics start working towards sub-competence in combat skills, streetwise characters improve on secondary support skills, and replacement characters from death/insanity might be geared towards better team cohesion than a drunken insurance salesman or a kung-fu hobo.

Presented for your consideration are the documented skill checks in the Masks hardcover. This does not include any combat skills, unless specified in bold in the text. It's Cthulhu folks, you have to assume some investigators need competence in hand to hand or small arms. It also can not determine skill checks needed on the fly for unpredictable Investigator actions.

Also included are the minimum and maximum SAN losses during that chapter, any SAN reward offered in the text, and any possible Cthulhu Mythos increase, regardless of study time required to earn it.

Anthropology x2
Cthulhu Mythos x5
Credit Rating x5
Fast Talk x6
Library Use x10
Natural History
Spot Hidden

Potential SAN loss. 3-44
Potential SAN gain. 0
Cthulhu Mythos 6

Pretty much everything you would assume from an opening chapter, except those FIVE Cthulhu Mythos checks to a novice party means no chance at certain info. Even at 5-10%, it could possibly open up some avenues, hence my opinion on using an experienced team.

I was going to list each side trek, tangent, and wild goose chase separate, but I don't want to give potential players anymore hints than the suggested skills for the replacements. That's my limit with meta-gaming.

Archaeology x3
Art: Oratory
Biology x2
Credit Rating x2
Cthulhu Mythos x2
Dodge x6
Electrical Repair
Fast Talk. X4
Library Use
Mechanical Repair
Occult x 2
Operate Hvy Machinery
OL. Arabic x 3
OL. Latin x 4
OL. Medieval French x3
OL. Old English
Persuade. X4
Physics x2
Psychology x5
Spot Hidden x11

Potential SAN loss. 3-63
Potential SAN gain. 5-40
Cthulhu Mythos. 0

Go to England and have your three biggest skills as Spot Hidden, persuade, Fast Talk, and Psychology, with a good smattering of languages no one takes. At least the players with Arabic get some love before descending into...

Without a guide (and sometimes with one) Arabic is required with every social skill roll. On top of that, many skills could be used just to navigate the streets. Skills marked "4+". Mean four specific mentions, with numerous other attempts depending on their actions.
Anthropology x3+
Archaeology x4+
Astronomy. x2
Climb x2
Credit Rating
Cthulhu Mythos x2
Fast Talk x2
Geology x2
History. x1+
Law. x1+
Library Use x1+
Natural History
Occult x3
OL: Arabic x2+
OL: Aramaic x1+
OL: Classical Greek x1+
OL: Coptic x1+
OL: Demotic Egyptian x1+
OL: Dutch
OL: German
OL: Hebrew x1+
OL: Hieroglyphics x2
Persuade x3
Psychology x5
Spot Hidden x10

Potential SAN loss. 17-444
Potential SAN gain. 3-35
Cthulhu Mythos. 2-8

Archaeology, psychology, and spot hidden, along with the possibility of a United Nations of the ancient required to translate. The fact that the max San loss could wipe out an entire party, much less one person, is reason the party needs to tread carefully in foreign lands. The truth may not be something they want to know.

Anthropology x3
Archaeology x2
Climb x2
Cthulhu Mythos x5
Fast Talk x2
Geology x2
History x2
Library Use x1+
Mechanical Repair
Natural History
Occult x2
OL: Swahili x1+
OL: Kikugal x1+
Persuade x2
Psychology x3
Spot Hidden x7

Potential SAN loss. 8-327
Potential SAN gain. 0
Cthulhu Mythos. 0

If Cairo takes care of the sloppy party, Kenya will finish off the lucky ones. When spot hidden and Cthulhu Mythos are your two top skills, you better be prepared for anything, especially big SAN loss.

Credit Rating x3
Cthulhu Mythos x6
Drive Auto x5
Electrical Repair x2
Fast Talk x4
Geology x6
Library Use
Listen x2
Locksmith x2
Mechanical Repair x4
Natural History
Navigate x2
Occult x2
Operate Hvy Machinery x2
Persuade x3
Psychology x7
Spot Hidden x10
Track x2

Potential SAN loss. 12-116
Potential SAN gain. 3-25
Cthulhu Mythos. 0-6

By this point, everyone should have ninja/zen monk Spot Hidden scores, so 10 rolls should be successful. The Psychology and Cthulhu Myhos rolls should be expected, but Geology? Six checks? Cairo and Kenya require it, so let's hope someone got some skill increases during those sessions.

Anthropology x3
Cthulhu Mythos
Electrical Repair x2
Jump x2
Locksmith x5
Mechanical Repair x4
Medicine x2
Natural History x3
OL: Chinese (Mandarin) x1+
Physics x3
Psychology x4
Spot Hidden x11

Potential SAN loss. 6-57
Potential SAN gain. 6-79
Cthulhu Mythos. 54

Shanghai, Oriental city... Whoops, different city in that song, but the feel might be the same (with less chess.) As written, the author assumes that this is the last location visited. With that assumption, the SAN gain includes successfully thwarting the diabolical plot. The SAN loss is less, but the chance of bodily harm around EVERY corner offsets that. In fact, SAN loss could be minimized far easier in this chapter than others.

There we have it. A cheat sheet for the entirety of Masks. It's maddening, it's deadly, and with the right mix of characters, it could be completed. If you can get through it with German brewmasters, dirigible pilots, and kung-fu hobos, I'd love to hear the stories, but I'm anticipating more details about the failures.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Some Gnomes Hold Their Beer Far Better Than Others

The blog title, "Gaming with the Gnomies," has multiple meanings, one of the easier ones to deciphered is gaming with my friends.  When I game with my friends, copious amounts of alcohol may be imbibed.  And I'm sad to say that we've never tried this:

I'm two years late on this news, so the beer is long gone, but I'm surprised it didn't generate any conversation  outside of some graphic marketing blogs.  Norsk Ol might be Norwegian in flavor both in brewing and the use of the Nisse in a six pack barn, but it's not a foreign beer.  The packaging is in English!

Any info outside of a casual Google search is appreciated.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Killer Teddy Bears From Japan

I've been bottom feeding on eBay this week and have been getting squat.  Technically A Squat, but I still need time with last week's finds.

Upon hoping for a one in a million chance for someone unloading Eureka Teddy Bears for a penny, these minis from Japan came up.

Some random mouse...

And some monster hamsters (zombies)

The company is at . Don't know the yen to dollar conversion, but the figs were on eBay with a Buy Me Now of $8 for one with free shipping.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

(Cthulhu) Everything is falling into place... Mwaha... Haha

Our next Call of Cthulhu game is slotted for September 29th and we're kicking things up a notch.

We have SEVEN players slated to show up. I was as giddy as a schoolgirl with five for session #13, so seven might push my GM skills.
Second, we have two brand new players who were kind enough to accept our invite. One is Jugular Josh (check out his "Where There Had Been Darkness" blog.) The second is a man I will refer to as "Doctor Bob," a history professor at one of the universities in the New York metropolitan area. Both are experienced players, and Bob can be considered the beacon that initially drew me to CoC. The fact that Bob, as one website put it, "knows his shit,"means I need to have my shit together as well.

CoC in the 20's is normally an anachronism of the modern age and apologists diluting what really happened during the era. Racism, sexism, and various ethnic/cultural intolerance pervades most nooks and crannies of the era, To avoid it simply because it's an uncomfortable subject is ludicrous.

I also would like to avoid modern day assumptions leaking into the game. No voice mail or answering machines means important phone calls that you actually connect or answer have a certain gravitas. Letters take weeks, research is not a mouse click away. People forget how slow communication was (and can still be). I'd like avoid the investigators perseverating on one contact from Mexico City getting back to them and dropping all research until that time.

Knowing Dr Bob could make or break the realism of the campaign, I broke my "surprise!" rule for new players and consulted him on.. well... himself in CoC form.

If it went any better, we would be chucking dice right now. Outside of a few niggling details, not only was the background I constructed structurally sound, but it was opened ended enough to allow him to explore the character in future session.

This aint my first rodeo. Sometimes I am as good as advertised.

I guess my only worry now is that Bob sounded genuinely excited, which just reinforces my need to bring my A-game to the table. Of course, I'll get all my Keeper prep work and within five minutes they'll be buying train tickets to the Berkshires looking for haunted doorknobs.

I also a had fifteen minute conversation this week with Mike Lung over all things miniature, but most especially, a super secret stockpile of LOS minis. The gaming monster should be ready to rear its head.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Painting Day with Daddy

It's been a rough week.  My mother-in-law has been in the hospital with steadily declining health, my wife has been run ragged, daycare is run by a descendant of Mussolini, and we've sorta been going through the motions with the kids.

It was time for a painting afternoon with Daddy.

With the addition of 20 month old Amelia, it's not as easy as one-on-one time with Maja.  Anyone with multiple kids knows exactly where I'm coming from.

It was a light day for work and messes.  Amelia preferred using her paint brush as makeup brush than putting it to paper.  Maja finished off her $1 birdhouse from Michael's in record time, staying in the lines better than I do any given day.

Me?  Not much, for some obvious reasons.  A 20 month old is a bit of a demanding painting partner, and my  main goal was to assemble as many minis from my last eBay auction as possible. Two boars, one warhorse, and one big ass Dark Elf horse (Nightmare) are trimmed and glued, even if Millie stole one of the Boars (...Puppy!) and broke off a tail who knows where in the house.  I got called to the hospital when my stalwart wife finally needed assistance and girls got to play with friends the rest of the day.
Mini painters in training
Perhaps I'll do some early morning priming and work on my horse painting... and the study of boar fur.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Day of Sloth

The Day of Sloth is our 6th Annual Sunday Before Labor Day Picnic.  Potluck, beverages, and a bounce house keep the mob at bay.  For my friends our annual Illuminati University (IOU) game using Risus capped off the evening.

Last year, my side of the invites were low, so when the 5pm hit, there was a mass exodus, which left Nichols, Steve, and myself.  We put the tables together and set up a Gnome Wars game for the Tanga campaign.  This year, between the bounce house, and low invites on the wife's side, numerous people lingered, and I had seven players.  An Actual Play report will soon follow.

There's something magical about IOU, especially using Risus.  Everything is free form, player driven, and GM guided.  I had a smattering of ideas, a rehashed villain, and yet the table was full of raucous laughter until it was deemed too dark to play anymore.  And alas, no Snake Gandhi.

We also had a nice meeting of the minds in regards to the Call of Cthulhu campaign.  Individual goals were discussed with minimal metagaming, new characters introduced, and an expansion of the game covered.  If everything falls into plan, it will be glorious for the players, and a great demand on the Keeper that i'll gladly accept.