Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Apathy of New Releases (November 2012)

I saw my first true Christmas ad on television the other day.  It was oddly enough a PetSmart ad during a rerun of  Doctor Who on BBC America.  Strange way to start the holiday ad season, but decorations and products have been infiltrating store shelves for a few weeks now.  For large stores and manufacturers, holiday planning has been going on since last Thanksgiving. Somewhere in a secret room, toy designers are releasing a new version of Disney Cars Monopoly that more sales than last year's copy, and possibly a number of repeat customers.

In the Adventure Gaming industry *snicker* that long term planning isn't there.  Outside of GenCon releases,  a company is more likely to release a product during the winter doldrums than push for a Christmas season release.

The good news is, this year looks to have some gems for Christmas, depending on your clientele.

My Wish List

Reaper's CHRISTMAS MOUSLINGS  $12.99


My Money is No Object List

GREAT WAR AT SEA:  CONFEDERATE STATES NAVY - Avalanche Press survived the d20 glut. and continues to produce some interesting chit-based wargames.  This one WW1 Naval with an alternate history Confederacy still hanging large and in charge.


EVIL BABY ORPHANAGE
Evil Baby Orphanage - The world’s foremost time travelling facility for the preventive parenting of evil babies! In Evil Baby Orphanage, players take on the role of a Time-Nanny, kidnapping villains throughout history and raising them to be accountants, ballerinas, or... something. Prevent your babies from burning down your orphanage as you try to keep the Unabomber away from the arts and crafts table, Kim Jong II away from the toy rocket ship, and Caligula away from everyone! Use good toys to keep Evil Babies from wreaking havoc, bad toys to encourage Evil Babies in other orphanages to cause a little trouble, and various Nanny actions to swap and adopt the  as you endeavor to keep the most evil outof the time stream. Scheduled to ship in October 2012.  WYR PG001 ............................$18.00




The Imaginary Store List
Compass Games:
THE WAR: EUROPE 1939-1945 $150.00

NATIONS IN ARMS: VALMY TO WATERLOO  $120.00
SILENT WAR $75.00  for a solitaire sub warfare game.

If these aren't the definition of big Christmas present, nothing is.

Days of Wonder

TICKET TO RIDE: MAP COLLECTION VOLUME 3 - THE HEART OF AFRICA

Decision Games

BREITENFELD: ENTER THE LION OF THE NORTH
ACRE: THE THIRD CRUSADE OPENS

LEBANON ‘82: OPERATION PEACE FOR GAILLEE
LOOS 1915: THE BIG PUSH

PAVIA: CLIMAX OF THE ITALIAN WARS
More affordable chit wargames.

Diamond
Pathfinder Goblin Plush:  Here 'be a toy goblin, but with no price in the catalog.  Let's hope he doesn't cost too much booty.....

Fantasy Flight Games with a great schedule of releases.

BLACK CRUSADE RPG: THE TOME OF BLOOD  $39.95

BLOOD BOWL TEAM  MANAGER CARD GAME:  SUDDEN DEATH EXPANSION  $24.95

ROGUE TRADER: STARS OF INEQUITY  $39.95

STAR WARS RPG: EDGE OF  THE EMPIRE BEGINNER GAME  $29.95
STAR WARS: THE CARD GAME  $39.95




STAR WARS X-WING MINIATURES GAME: A-WING EXPANSION PACK   $14.95
Milenium Falcon, Slave I and Tie Interceptor are also coming out.

I haven't looked into the Star Wars space minis, but $14.95 for a single figure sounds great for dogfights, but financially daunting for anything larger.

Frog God Games

THE BLACK MONASTERY HARDCOVER  $33.00

PATHFINDER / SWORDS & WIZARDRY: TOME OF ADVENTURE DESIGN  $42.00

PATHFINDER: THE SLUMBERING TSAR SAGA COLORING ALBUM  $4.99

PATHFINDER: THE SLUMBERING TSAR SAGA HARDCOVER  $149.99
RAPPAN ATHUK HARDCOVER  $114.99

Mantic
GOBLIN SHARPSTICKS (20)  $22.49

Paizo

GAMEMASTERY FLIP-MAT:WATCH STATION  $12.99

PATHFINDER ADVENTURE  SHATTERED STAR PART 6 —THE DEAD HEART OF XIN  $19.99

PATHFINDER CAMPAIGN SETTING: SHATTERED STAR POSTER MAP FOLIO  $19.99

PATHFINDER MODULE:  DOOM COMES TO DUSTPAWN  $13.99

PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION: DUNGEONEER’S HANDBOOK  $10.99



                                                                                           
Privateer Press

TROLLBLOOD LONG RIDERS (5)  PIP 71080..............................$109.99
What?   $110 for five figures?  What are they, 54mm sterling silver?

Reaper

THE NATIVITY: WISE MAN #1 RPR 01437 ................................$6.99
Start stocking your nativity to be used to play Warlord.

Steve Jackson
DINO HUNT DICE GAME $9.95
It just won't die!   SJG released the card version of this in the 90's and I remember it faring better in museum gift shops than independent game stores.   Why not Munchkin:  Dino Hunt?

Troll Lords

CASTLES & CRUSADES RPG:  JACK OF LIES  $19.95

CASTLES & CRUSADES RPG: THE CRIMSON PACT  $6.99

WotC

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS:  DUNGEON COMMAND - CURSE OF UNDEATH $39.95
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: RUINS OF WAR DUNGEON TILES  $11.95
As 5th Edition is playtesting, let's break out generic stuff for  the holidays.

Wizkids
THE LORD OF THE RINGS DICE BUILDING GAME -
Tolkein + Dragon Dice?

MARVEL HEROCLIX: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Stocking stuffers!
















Saturday, October 27, 2012

Long-Term Campaign Overplanning

I'm barely on speaking terms with our 1-year old Lab, Pokey. That whole "Marley and Me" schtick is a bunch of malarkey. I have found zero benefit from this hellhound, save taking him for a walk.

Our walk, a mile's worth of laps around our development has been my gaming time. As I prepped to run The Pennywell Hangmen for the Cthulhu group, I used the walk to help memorize portions and run contingencies with numerous characters. It does help that the walks are usually after 9pm, so no one notices the man, with a dog, mumbling to himself.

Now that the scenario has united the different investigator factions, I've spent my walks filling in the blanks for the three months between scenarios, then prepping for the upcoming sessions. The next sessions appear to be less strenuous than Pennywell. It might be that we don't have a set play date or roster of attendees. It might also be that two of the experienced players who are wild cards probably won't be making the game (new dad syndrome). Of course the new group members could easily double my headaches, but I'm not laying that down as a challenge.

After those topics got stale, I've moved on to what I've been calling "Post-1924.". The published campaigns start coming out, bigger secrets are revealed, and they will sit back and look fondly on how easy the previous scenarios are.

As I expanded the raving fantasy of getting multiple campaigns done thorough 1930, I realized I committed a cardinal sin of GMing: I had assumed certain PCs would survive to completion.

While my subconscious has good justification for this (experienced players, experienced investigators, great character stories), there is absolutely no way I could/should guarantee this occurs.

During my college AD&D game, I had a three PCs set up as "the chosen ones" for the eventual finale. It fit the theme of the campaign, but things fell apart when the one player just stopped playing and the other two died. If I can't/won't keep PCs alive in a D&D game, how can I even imagine PC survival in a game where they are just normal men and women, with slowly shredding psyches, fighting unspeakable horrors. Eventually some of them will get surrounded by cultists or turn left into a Shoggoth's mouths when they should have turned right. I want to give the PCs a fighting chance, but sometimes imminent disaster occurs, even if it's a 1% chance.

So now I must turn my attention back to "1924" and drop some plot may or may not develop, thanks to that whole possibility of getting eaten by a Shoggoth.  Even then, I need to remember that this group has historically been good at creating amusing replacement characters.  I just need the campaign glue to put them into place.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mousling Cowgirl and Trusty Hound

I've been late to the party recently with some new releases, so it's no surprise that I missed Angela and Scooter:
  
I'm assuming the names are reversed.  It is nice to see the Mouslings in different eras (a cowboy Mousling had been previously offered only at select cons), but that seems like a lot of rodent cleavage to tote around in the Mouse West.  Perhaps that's why she has a mount.

$8.49 SRP for the duo.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

(TIARA) Belle's Birthday Brawl

Sunday was Daddy's day with his girls (age 3 1/2 and 21 months), so we broke out some of the birdhouses and told a story.

It was Belle's birthday and all the kids in the neighborhood were invited to the Princess Castle for a party.  Even the famous David the Gnome, Kenny the Gnome, and Zeke the Mouse each got invites!  Belle opened her presents in the courtyard and got a lot of cool presents from Abby, Drink Boy, Hula Girl, and the gnomes,  but Belle also received a magic turtle in an umarked box.   Where did this come from?

Belle's party and the magic turtle. Millie in the background.
Suddenly a group of goblins came out of a small outbuilding and charged party!  The children ran home, the Royal Guard ran out to defend Princess Belle, even the gnomes stopped eating cake to come outside.

The Primerville Goblins strike!
 Belle ran back into the castle, and outside a giant goblin unwisely wanting to pick a fight with Zeke the Mouse, the goblin leaders grabbed the magic turtle and started to run back to the tunnel inside the outbuilding.
Running away with the Turtle
 Maja interjected into the storytelling, "Abby is going to come back use her magic to blow up the building."   She rolled her multi-color die, got a green, and me breaking out Legions of Steel tiles for a short dungeoncrawl turned into a climatic final battle behind the old church!

The goblin leaders met up with their henchman, a giant cat, and of course, a stinky kangaroo to protect the magic turtle.
Our heroes fight the ultimate fight!
 The fight was a bit of a stalemate. Only David the Gnome got a significantly hurt with a boo-boo on the knee.  After an eternity of dice rolling, Zeke the Mouse got hot, taking out a goblin leader and knocking out the stinky kangaroo to regain possession of the magic turtle.  The goblins quickly lost morale and scattered off.
Mouse, Victorious!
 With the turtle returned, the party could continue.  The David's injury, they gave him a special chair for hurt gnomes.He could not dance with the rest of the guests, but Zeke invited some of his mouse friends, and a good time drinking juice boxes was had by all.

War heroes party in VIP!
But what of the mysterious magic turtle?  Why did the goblins appear to try to ruin the party?  Next week Mommy has a wine country bus trip with her girlfriends, so Daddy gets to run a follow up... if the girls are willing.

After 90 minutes Maja took over and spent another 30 minutes playing tea party with everything.  Millie needed a snuggle and nap and as fast as we started, everything was put away.  My makeshift TIARA system  performed well to keep Maja occupied, although a string of  "no action" rolls slowed down the finale.

I had been using multicolor dice for resolution (red,green, blue, yellow as an weird squarish four sider).  Green was good for the heroes, red bad, and the others we continued telling the story.  We expanded using the giant multicolor d6 we got from Pop's Culture Shoppe and allowed her to pick an extra color when Zeke started getting hot. Outside of Zeke's luck, the extra sides obviously slowed down combat resolution.  I'll need to find some replacements of the four color ones I've misplaced.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pop's Culture Shoppe, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

Update (7/22/2016):  A more recent review of the expanded store can be found here.

I spent this past weekend up in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with my wife PLUS our two little ones Maja (3 1/2) and Amelia (21 months). It was either love in the air, a soiled diaper, or sometimes both.

When I lived in Wellsboro, I had only two serious problems with the town: No bookstore and the closest gaming store was White Knight in Williamsport, which was a harrowing 45 minute Fast and the Furious style drive if I wanted to make for their last Magic booster draft after work on Saturdays.

I relocated to Wilkes-Barre right before my wedding, but we still had the ceremony planned in Wellsboro. On one of our trips to tie up loose ends, I discovered On My Shelf books had opened up on Main St. They had a growing selection and a tiny gaming section. Just my luck.

Recently, On My Shelf moved to a more prominent location of East Ave (US 6) and Main St, replacing one of the kitschy tourist trap stores for middle aged women the now plague the town. More specifically, they took over 2/3 of the old store. The back third (with a separate side entrance on East Ave) is now Pop's Culture Shoppe, a game store.

Less than two blocks from my old apartment.

My wife is lucky she got me when I did. I would have fought relocation tooth and nail now.

I went in Saturday afternoon with my wife, Michelle, and the two wee ones, anticipating the worst.  Instead I encountered this:

Meet Anja and Julian Stam. They are not your stereotypical gamer geeks, who opened up a store so their buddies had a place to game and get product at cost. Within ten seconds, their genuinely friendly demeanor (and immaculately clean store) won me over.

I was going to start covering stock and activities, but something just struck me: they were happy to see the overly-excited little ones. In fact, while I snapped a few photos and drooled over the selection, and Michelle kept Maja corralled in the kid's section, Julian put it upon himself to entertain little Millie at a table with Tic Tac Toe games and a copy of Regatta. While that was going on Anja engaged in small talk with Michelle while gently doing an informational pitch about the games Maja was going gaga over. If they're that good with the potential tsunami of destruction from two kids under four, imagine how they'll treat a clueless parent looking for a game for a family member

That said, let's cover my normal store pet peeves. Cleanliness? I may not eat off their beautiful hardwood floors, but I would sit on them, even play games on them without a worry of getting stuck to the floor, or contracting the Hantavirus like some stores I've visited. Clutter? Everything was nicely situated on bookshelves. And the one wall in the store that might qualify as such is kept at such a high level that I could peruse each item without feeling like I was rummaging through product.

In my conversation with Julian, he was quite forthcoming. They used multiple distributors and even a few direct accounts to keep a variety of products in stock.  They might not have it, but they would be more than happy to do special orders in a timely manner.

Their focus was on board games, family games, Magic (with limited tournaments), and Heroclix. Role playing doesn't do well as stocked product, so they focus on growing other areas, like puzzles, art supplies/projects, and a dazzling learning game area for small children.

Some small demo tables, and the wall of "stuff"
It did take awhile for someone to request the Magic singles, but then I noticed a few other items:  Silver/Bronze Age comics hiding in the case.  Nothing that caught my eye, but between that and the artwork on the walls, it could spark the spending of a random tourist who wandered in by "mistake" and left with a pile of stuff  "on purpose".

More board/card games
The gaming area is about 40% of the store and isn't wasted when there are no games going on,   The setup is more reminiscent of a small coffee shop, with small tables and nice chairs, than the swap meet mentality of banquet tables I see elsewhere.  Most importantly,the room is full of shelves of more board games (all the size that can't be easily swiped.)  Great use of space.
The boardgame display in the open gaming area
They do have regular events, like Magic tournaments and Family Game nights.  They also host classes for the Chess Club.  I did see pictures that they rented out a portion of the new Deane Center for the Performing Arts down the street to host a major tournament when the latest Core Magic set came out (13th Edition?.. I'm out of the loop).

One of the Game Days.  The Gaming Area is in the far back.
We left Pop's with a large bag of stuff.  Two nice games for the kiddos, a copy of Cthulu Fluxx, and a special d10 I'll using for Call of Cthulhu.  If the budget was bigger, I would have made their rent payment for the month.  It''s not that I haven't seen most of their inventory before at cons and other stores, it's that the Stams are so pleasant, the store so responsibly set-up, and such a blatant attempt at having fun in the air that I would prefer to give these folks my money than a fly-by-night con dealer or an impersonal web store.  My wife said she would do my "traditional" Christmas shopping through them via mail and I can't blame her.  Pop's is doing exactly what every other brick and mortar game store should be doing:  Promoting an atmosphere of fun and friendliness, experimenting with new product lines when possible, and keeping a clean and professional operation.

On the unofficial, ever changing Gaming with the Gnomies, 5-Gnome Rating System, I can proudly say that Pop's Culture Shoppe earns a rating of five gnomes

I was going to give them 4.5, but three factors came into play.  First, my only gripe is that they still need to expand areas of the store.  That falls flat when I realized that my idea of improvements might not make money in Wellsboro.  Then I remembered that they've been in business in this form for less than a year!   Finally, if I were to open my own store, I would follow the business practices of the Stams (I even wrote about some of them in my Apathy columns over the past few years.

Pop's Culture Shoppe is located at 2 East Ave, Wellsboro, PA - Open 10-6 Monday through Thursday plus Saturday, open Friday 10-8, and closed Sunday. The website still under construction, but check them out on Facebook for additional info.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Let's Get Moving...

It's been a crazy week in real life. Work is ramping up, the kids are amped up, and my wedding anniversary is today.

I have a bunch of new posts, but I would like my "RIP Nick" post no longer on the front of my blog. His memorial service was Friday and sounds like it was well attended.

Of course, I remembered the funeral home was the same one that had the memorial service for Jack Mischko. Jack was larger than life (literally, he made me look like a petite flower.). He was part if the Torg/Clay-o-Rama/Men in Black group at cons. He had a voice of God and loved nothing more than laughing. His size made his passing not a complete shock, but it still saddened the entire Lehigh Valley gaming community.

I hate burying friends more than my own family.

Coming Up: A gaming store review from out of the blue!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

RIP: Nick Yutko

There's great sadness in the Gnomie World as I have to report the passing of Nick Yutko, owner of Dreamscape Comics in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Details are still sketchy, but it looks like it resulted from serious complications from flu-like symptoms.

Nick was a good guy. He gave me a job. In some of my responsibilities he gave me the closest thing to free reign he could as a boss. While we had our disagreements, (a) I knew it was his store and (b) when I was running Griffon Games I had moments of "Ah, that's why he did things like that!"

Nick introduced me to the Squirrel Nut Zippers. He tortured us in the store with Al Stewart and a bit more WGPA than a normal man needs to listen to. He was a die hard skeptic, and I only remember one time when he significantly cut his hair (it was like the infamous Bill shaved his beard). He will be missed.

And before anyone else brings up the point, I will not discuss the fate of the shop here, especially this week...

Nick, center, flanked by his captains of industry , Jason and Mr. Bill.

Gaming Plans for 2013

My year-in-review is done, so, like any New Year's Eve Show I must explain my plans for my weird 2012-13 year.

Gnome Wars: Yes I know that this is the inspiration for the blog/name. Yes it accounts for over 50% of my gaming. Yes, it's the bulk of my gaming collection. Even with all that, I'm probably put on the back burner. Too many other priorities. I havent even cleaned up my mess from unloading the car after Mepacon, and that was April. After Christmas I might have interests again. Tanga can continue. Perhaps another Samoan game for Cold Wars... As a precursor to Cold Wars I could do it as Contemptible Little Gnomes. Plus I owe my godson Connor a few games (and painting lessons) with his Highlanders.

Cthulhu: After a great game, that is my main focus. It helps that my break time at work can be reading time, and my walks with the dog help me work with timing, pacing, and futile attempt to predict character actions. CoC's style and player availability might not allow for a monthly game, but I can foresee us powering through the four scenarios I have planned for 1924 and start a session or three of the big campaign.

TIARA: I may mix the princess element with some gladiator combat, catching up on one project that never got off the ground. The Warhammer figsI snagged cheap off of eBay will make an appearance soon.

Contemptible Little Armies: If the Samoan Civil War project is to kick off first I need to see if the chosen system for it will really work. Gnome, Space Marine, and Lizardmen stand-ins will be used before I take the plunge and expand into Colonial Polynesian games.

Legions of Steel: Still collecting it, a game or two would be the cherry on top.

Toon: We have dabbled into expanding Cthulhu Comes to Springfield, but nothing solid.

Dust Tactics: Phil will love this... Since I know we wont make every month for Cthulhu, and Phil's copy of Dust Tactics is still sitting on his shelf, I'd be happy to expand my horizons on this one.

Painting: good guys/bad guys for TIARA, and then it's completely open until I make my decision on the Samoa game.

Purchases. I'd like to clear off my current wish list, including a pile of MBA buildings, some Gnomes to round out the armies, the Mousling Tavern, and Tales of the Sleepless City when it comes out. Then comes the Samoa project, which will be the bulk of my fun share of the tax return.

The dream purchases would include the new edition of OGRE, more MBA, some Warlord Zulu goodness, Mantic Corporate Marines for LOS figs, and snag up all the LOS models.

Cons: even more low key this year. I'm going to enjoy myself as a normal conventioneer at Mepacon Fall, probably the same for Spring, and go balls out for Cold Wars. 2014 might be crazy, but I'll keep it low key.
That's right, no Fall-in...

And, of course, I'll keep blogging.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gaming Year in Review: 2012

Like a weird federal tax cycle, my gaming year starts in October of every year.  I've been doing it like that for 24 years now, deal with  it.

Despite financial and convention logistics issues, the gaming year was great!  I got just enough gaming in, and some of it was even with my girls, Maja (3 1/2) and Amelia (almost 2).

Let's start off with the closest item: The Blog
I got some spirited feedback from my Gnome Wars 2.0, as well as a quick review of Contemptible Little Armies.  The biggest post was pics from Historicon in Fredericksburg, even though I wasn't even there.  the GWTG special correspondent Mike Lung was a great on-site reporter.

From my gaming record for the year, I can extrapolate this:

Gnomes! We got the first part of the Tanga campaign finished, with an added scenario to see if the Germans were completely screwed. The Swiss had fought back hard and pulled out a minor victor. Now onto the battles around the actual port itself (time to paint the Sikhs!) We also had some great games at the HMGS cons. Heck, even my buddy Steve bought into Gnome Wars. Mind you, he also had a baby boy this past year, and the thought of him breeding surprises me even more than that!

Cthulhu: four sessions in a year!  I'm on fire!  We have enough of a base group now to survive the fatherhoods of Steve and Nate, and the distance of new players Bob, Aaron, and Josh.  After that first game with Jess and Phil, I finally got them to meet the core group and hilarity ensued.  I'm hoping for four sessions between now and June, or at least iron out a consistent schedule. The year 1924 has finally arrived.  No one's lives will ever be the same.

I also experimented with TIARA (Toddler Interactive Adventure Resolution... Adventure),  We enjoyed some quick 1-hour games and with a little time, and little more maturity, we can play Advanced TIARA.

Risus:  Our annual Day of Sloth IOU game was back up and running , with a great rehashing the old villains I had used previously.

Legions of Steel:  One of my gamer resolutions was to play this this year, and I got in one game.

Conventions: Fall in 2011 was a hoot.  Nice Gnome Mega-games, my Yellowstone game was a hoot, we had a freaky snowstorm, sucky rooms at the Host, and sleeping in a room with three kids under three was interesting.  Late night drinking with the stout gnomes at the bar was epic.  I've used the heart attack joke a good half dozen times with much success.  I returned to Mepacon after a year absence and threw in a new dynamic: my wife.  Cold Wars was epic, with the three table mega-game, the Canadians, Mike Lung's cannibal gnomes, and my first dabbling into the my new interest: The Samoan Civil Wars, real and gnomish.

Purchases: A lot of gnomes (surprise!)   I got American Gnomes, with lots of support staff.   MBA Customs House, and some Middle Eastern buildings, and wishing well add to my table nicely.   I've slowly recovered my LOS collection, at least book wise, although there are plenty of new figures way down on my painting list.  eBay has been good to me, picking up a bunch of random Warhammer figs which average $2 apiece after shipping.  And I almost forgot Contemp

Painting:  not impressive, but consistent.  This year's Gnome Wars unit was British Marines for the Cold wars mega game (and Samoa). Throw in 2 ships for the the game, my daughter's royal tower, and some mouslings, and that's just about it.  I did about the same as last year, just with no real terrain pieces. I do know I'm eventually going to need more storage.

And now my inconsequential awards my own accomplishments for the past 12 months.

Best Game: This has been keeping this post on the back burner since the 1st.  All the games I've played have been good, the Cold Wars games were awesome.  My Yellowstone game is either the most innovative thing in the last thirty years of historical wargaming, or it the idea of educating while playing got boring real fast back in the day.  The winner has to be my June  Rorke's Drift  game.  Historical wargaming with a fantasy twist, an inexpensive "Zulu" army, and my daughter chucking prodigious amounts of dice will trump just about anything.

Best RPG Purchase:  Outside of two Rifts books and Hero Old West I picked up for a buck apiece at a flea market.  I made no true new RPG purchases..  I will say then, for inspiration to myself and my daughter Maja, Mouse Guard Winter 1152 is the best RPG related product I've bought this year.

Best Miniature Purchase:  Despite the gnome explosion, the winner is the Warhammer Fantasy Undead Wolves pack. despite losing a tail on one, the other one stoked my desire to paint, if only for a bit.

Best Miscellaneous Purchase  The MBA Customs House may win on shear awesomeness to some, but the fact that I picked up Contemptible Little Armies plus book 3, covering Africa and the Middle East.

Best New stuff:  This whole Kickstarter thing, might just be the thing the keeps the hobby afloat, or it will be the final death knell to gamers using the brick and mortar system.  The idea that people  have hundreds of dollars invested in multiple miniatures kickstarters might be great for them, but that money isn't going into the normal transaction circuit.  Plus that money could be tied up with the company for months before it delivers actual product.  We shall see...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

(Gnome Wars) The Bore Wars

All quiet on the gaming front here. Hopefully a little painting this weekend, but for now I'm catching up on a dozen and a half blog post at some stage.

While that is getting accomplished, I present to you, the Boer Wars, as imagined by Mike Lung. It's a great way to fight historic battles, using most gnome nationalities, teddy bears, frogs, and if you're in a modelling mood, Swiss style bunny cavalry!

Of Bores and Bears by Mike Lung
A disgruntled Swiss gnomish miner named Joseph Opalsmyth, Jr. was also a local religious leader and was considered a prophet by his followers. Opalsmyth was a simple man who preached that the gnomish gods wished that Gnomes live simple lives close to nature, managing their small farms, protecting local wildlife and of course mining gems. Although gnomes are naturally skilled craftsman, an over reliance on technology and other modern ways was frowned upon. He was a close advocate of following the ways of Saint David the Gnome and others like him. Opalsmyth saw the increasing German (technological and modern) influence not only as a threat to the traditional Swiss gnomish way of life, but sacrilege and an affront to the gnomish gods.

One day while mining, Opalsmyth found some mysterious, ancient golden tablets deep within a previously unexplored cavern. Only Opalsmyth’s closest friends and confidents were allowed to view the tablets up close as they were said to be a sacred sign from the gods and meant only for the eyes of the most faithful. Guided by these sacred writings and dreamlike visions, Opalsmyth was tasked by the gods to lead his faithful followers to a new gnomish promise land, a land of cheese and honey. Opalsmyth gathered his followers and set out on this self imposed exodus away from the corrupting, worldly ways of the Germans. Opalsmyth led his followers to a far off land know as Afrikka. He and his followers were later named Bores by other gnomes because their simplistic lifestyle seemed dreadfully boring compared to the wonders that technology was bringing to the lives of more modern thinking gnomes.

As caravans of Bore Gnomish settlers left the coastal imperial towns of southern Afrikka and moved inward across Afrikkan landscape, the promises and prophesies of Opalsmyth came true. Afrikka was indeed was a land of wonder…vast grasslands to raise cheese producing cows and goats, rock uplands and mountains to dig tunnels and search for gems, immense vast forest teaming with wildlife, and no foreign Gnomes to corrupt the minds of the young. It seemed like the Bores had found their Gnomish paradise. But all was not what it seemed.

Afrikka was occupied by a race of natives who had a teddy bear appearance and seemingly primitive ways of life. They were seen as a naïve, carefree folk whose less than industrious ways offended the dour, hard working gnomes. It is said these natives loved more than anything else to picnic, eat honey and chase butterflies. Indeed, gathering honey and herding wooden cows (that don’t move around too much) was their main economic occupations. At first, the Bores merely chased the bears away and took from them their land and honey without consideration. Later, the native bears were even killed or force to work as slaves in the gnomish mines or on gnomish mushroom plantations. The Bores justified these actions by saying the land was given to them by their gods, and therefore the natives of the land were also given to them to be done with as they chose. Efforts by the natives to resist were mercilessly crushed.

Naturally, unconquered native bears learned to fear the Bores and fought them in defense. But those efforts were scattered and unorganized. That was until the Bores in their arrogance stole a large honey hoard on located deep in Zulubear territory and attempted to seize by force a large area of land from the Zulubear nation. Unlike many of the other native tribes, the Zulubears were a highly organized, military society. The king of the Zulubears controlled a huge standing army. Each young male cub was taken from his family assigned into a regiment referred to as impis that became his new family. The impis were organized by age, trained as warriors, and were given fierce regimental names like Honeybees and the Golden Suffocating Death. These bears served as soldiers and laborers for their king until they had earned the right to settle down and marry. The earning of this right was known as the washing of the plungers and earned by plunging the Zulubear weapon into the gut of their enemies! Anxious to wash their plungers and take vengeance against the Bores, the Zulubears ambushed a wagon train and brutally plunged their plungers into the bellies all Gnomes in the caravan. Since then the war between the Bores and Zulubears has been fierce. Bitter hatred best described the relationship between these two groups.

If the Zulubear conflict was not trouble enough, large deposits of brightly color gems were found on Bore lands. Naturally, word spread like wild fire. Imperial colonists located along the coast of Afrikka who had up to now ignored the Bores were caught up in gem fever. Large numbers of colonists largely consisting of highlanders and leprechauns left the imperial port cities and moved into the lands claimed by the Bores in hopes of becoming rich. The Bores resisted this unwanted intrusion into their sacred land. Open hostility broke out. Imperial Sikh, Highlander, and South African gnome regiments were sent to quell the violence only to find themselves embroiled in the conflict. Even more antagonizing to the Bores, well trained and equipped imperial bear infantry regiments were sent. Naturally, the thought of arming and training bears to fight using traditional Gnome tactics was thought to be fundamental threat to the Bores and their way of life.

Further to the north, the Bores discovered a long lost ancient society of Gnomians. These were the descendants of the famous lost IXII Gnomini Legion who marched into Afrikka and mysteriously disappeared. As was normal Gnomian Empire practice, inhabitants of lands conquered were in Gnominized and assimilated into the empire as full citizens and served in the army. Many bear legionnaire regiments served alongside more traditional Gnomian legionnaires. The Gnomians were an aggressive, dangerous foe with their own imperialistic designs.

Also to the north, were vast jungles and swamps. These were the home to countless tribes of amphibian and saurians. The Kermitian tribe was the best known. These tribes tended to be highly aggressive. It is said that the most tribesmen had a taste for gnome meat!

Not to be outdone by their imperial counterparts, to the west the Germans set up a colony. On one-hand, the Germans were said to be more ruthless in their treatment of the native populations putting down rebellion with brutal efficiency. However, the Germans were also known to treat conquered populations with more compassion and fairness than many others. Natives were educated and could obtain leadership roles in colonial society. Native regiments were lead by German officers and NCOs and were considered an equal to most standard European regiments. Although the Bores had a traditional dislike for the Germans, they were served at least temporarily by the philosophy, “an Enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

So much for the peaceful idyllic life promised by Joseph Opalsmyth! The Bores and the rest of Afrikka was on the brink of war and total chaos!

Notes:
Bore dress like Swiss…traditional civilian gnome clothes…usually blue coats and red hats…some wear green, brown or gray coats. Most Bores are extremely independent and proud so service in standing regiments is frowned upon. Most regiments are militia like in organization. However, there a few professional trained regiments. These standing regiments usual serve as a police force and as mine and border guards. Bores have adapted to Afrikka by becoming expert riders. They usually ride bunnies, but sometimes other animals are ridden as well. Since a gnome riding a bunny across often invites the attention of hungry Afrikkan wildlife, the Bores have become expert shots as well. Bore caravans consists of wagons pulled by draft bunnies. They can be formed into defensive laagers when attacked. This is particularly effective against bear tribesmen. Some wagons have been known to be fitted with cannons (think Hussite war wagons!).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

(Stat Crunch) Spawn of Azathoth

While everyone harps on Masks of Nylarahotep being a meat grinder, no one dares mention how Spawn of Azathoth is a complete slaughterama.  Outside of Providence, the opportunity for the complete annihilation of the party lurks in every corner of every other location. It is a campaign for a calculating, experienced party looking for a grand finale, and what better musician is better to send them off but Azathoth?

For those who haven't discovered my previous analysis, each chapter is broken down into the noted skill checks, total possible sanity loss (worst/best case), total sanity reward, and any Cthulhu Mythos earned via text, although not monster.

Providence
Accounting x4
Anthropology
Biology x3
Chemistry x2
Climb x1
Credit Rating x8
Cthulhu Mythos
Fast Talk x5
First Aid x2
Law x4
Library Use x12
Locksmith x2
Mechanical Repair x1
Medicine x7
Occult x2
Persuade x 3
Psychoanalysis x2
Psychology x8
Spot Hidden x10
Zoology x2

Providence is huge, not only in sheer page count, but to accumulate sufficient plot hooks. The good news is the team should be able to piece together enough to go forward with the big picture, even if no one has points in Medicine.

Montana
Art: Song
Astronomy
Bargain
Cthulhu Mythos
Electrical Repair
First Aid
Geology
Hide
Law
Locksmith
Medicine
Natural History
Pharmacy
Sneak
Spot Hidden x6
Track

Potential SAN loss1-28
Potential SAN reward 1-19
Cthulhu Mythos 0

Montana could get nasty in a fight, but it can be accomplished with minimal SAN loss, and a potential to actually gain SAN.

Florida
Bargain
Credit Rating
Diving
Fast Talk x2
Library Use x11
Jump
OL: Latin
OL: Spanish
Persuade
Sneak
Spot Hidden x4
Track

Potential SAN loss1-28
Potential SAN reward 1-19
Cthulhu Mythos 0

Florida is more investigation, some ocean adventure, and a lot of chances to be killed. Sanity ain't that bad.

Andaman
Climb
Cthulhu Mythos
Geology
Library Use

Potential SAN loss 2-21
Potential SAN reward 2-20
Cthulhu Mythos 0

Tropical exploration and action, not much for the traditional skill set.

Ulthar
Credit Rating
Fast Talk x3
Jump
Library Use
Listen x2
Persuade x3

Potential SAN loss 1-33
Potential SAN reward 1-3
Cthulhu Mythos 0

Eternal
Bargain
Climb
Cthulhu Mythos
Fast Talk
Grapple
Hide
Listen x2
Medicine
Persuade
Sneak x2
Spot Hidden x4

Potential SAN loss  2-52
Potential SAN reward 0
Cthulhu Mythos 0

Perhaps it's the previous two chapters that set the tone of a meat grinder. Every positive step in the right direction causes three steps of misery.

Tibet
Anthropology x3
Archaeology
Biology
Climb
Cthulhu Mythos  x3
Dodge
English
First Aid
Geology
Hide  x2
History
Jump
Medicine
Natural History
Occult
OL: Mandarin
OL: Tibetan
Listen
Sneak x4
Spot Hidden x6
Swim x3
Track x2
Zoology

Potential SAN loss 4-124
Potential SAN reward 12-36
Cthulhu Mythos 0

The finale fits the mold.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

(Fall-in!) 2012 PEL is up!

The air is getting crisper, the leaves are just changing colors, little pumpkins are for sale beside every cash register imaginable, It's almost time for Fall-In!
This year, Fall-In! Is November 2-4 in Lancaster.  There's a whole new con staff, so getting their feet wet has resulted in a few faceplants into the water.  Outside of that, they've done an admirable job.

Some of the events that caught my eye...

F-217 - The Struggle for Omaruru (German South-West Africa,1904)
Fri. 2:00:00 PM, 4hrs, 6 players
GM:Roy Jones
Colonial 25mm, Rules: TheSword and the Flame

The Hereros hold the German garrison town of Omaruru; the Kaiser wants it back! But Hereroriflemen are defending in depth from stone fieldworks and strong points, with their usual courage and skill. A tough job awaits Hauptmann Franke's elite 2nd Feldkompagnie. From the scenario book "The Herero War". More at:www.hererowars.com.


African skirmishes have turned into one of my weaknesses, even though I've never played this one.

F-210 - 21st century Russian Civil War
Fri. 3:00:00 PM, 2hrs, 6 players
GM:Ben Fornshell with Del Stover and Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria
Modern 6mm, Rules: TBS

Terrorists take control of a small cluster of nuclear silos in Russia and are on the verge of starting a full scale nuclear war with the U.S.  Operating below the RADAR the U.S. races into eliminate the terrorists, but duped Russian forces receive orders to stop the invasion!

F-263 - Carnage and Glory: Fort Ticonderoga 1758
Fri. 6:00:00 PM, 2hrs, 12 players
GM:Frank Luberti and Connecticut Game Club
Sponsor: New York Wargamers Association, Prize: gift certificate
Age of Reason 28mm, Rules: Carnage and Glory II

Session 1: July, 1758. The British move against the French. Will the Fort be known as Ticonderogaor Carillon?  Regimental level game based upon actual events with a GM who walked the battlefield and observed there-enactment from Montcalm's position. Novices, children with adults, rules lawyers and GMs looking for revenge welcome.  CGC and NYWA members, familyand friends always welcome.  Rulestaught.
Kid Friendly Game.  Adult must be present with child.  Parent/Child teams encouraged

F-126 - The Battleof Guam-1914
Fri. 7:00:00 PM, 5hrs, 16 players
GM:Tim Niesen with Mitch King
WWI , Rules: Seekrieg V

The Year 1913 started the Japanese-American War. A Americanforce lead by two Wyoming classs super-dreadnaughts and two Virginia pre-dreadnaughts attack a Japanese convoy protected by large force of pre-dreadnaughts, semi-dreadnaughts, and light battlecruisers. Mitch King's new software will highlight this epic battle! If not enough participants show, a battle between armored cruisers will be held.
Complex game not recommended for children. Adult must be present with child

F-270 - Russo-Japanese Naval
Fri. 8:00:00 PM, 3hrs, 8 players
GM:Steve Robinson and Woodbridge Area GamerS(WAGS)
Sponsor: Merrimack The Old Glory ship yard, Prize: Gift Certificate
WWI 1:600, Rules: GrandFleet

For all those period enthusiasts, this is a hypothetical naval engagement in the Yellow Sea to introduce fellow wargamers to the fun of gaming the period.  A Russian Battleship squadron is on the huntfor revenge of the torpedo attack on the Port Arthur.  However, the Japanese fleet is ready to give battle.  Can this battle change the course of history?This game is featuring 1/600 scale Russo-Japanese ships produced by Old Glory Shipyards.
Beginners Welcome

S-320 - Rorke's Picnic
Sat. 11:00:00 AM, 2hrs, 7 players
GM:Jim Reynolds and WNPG
Sponsor: Eureka,Prize: Bears0
Age of Reason 28mm, Rules: TeddyBear Picnic

It is picnic time for the 24th Bear Foot, but visitors have rudely interrupted their picnic.  Will the boys have their picnic or will the Zulu bears ruin tea time?  Come play these award winning rules designed just for children. (Parents welcome to play.)

S-306 - Gnome Wars: The Doomed Legion
Sat. 12:00:00 PM, 4hrs, 8 players
GM:Jim Stanton with Steve Stanton and The Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games
Fantasy 28mm, Rules: GnomeWars

Lucky Lon has mustered all of his demons, zombies, and skeletal warriors and The Army of the Dead is marching on the tranquil town of Regensburg, a port on the banks of the Regen River.Will enemies become allies and join forces to save gnomekind, or will some nationalities take advantage of this opportunity to knock out a foe?


Sad news.  As of right now, Jim is not attending, so this event is probably cancelled.

S-298 - Win or Lose a War in an Afternoon" - Jutland, 31 May 1916
Sat. 1:00:00 PM, 6hrs, 8 players
GM:Bruce Potter with Mike Fatovic
WWI Other, Rules: AvalonHill Jutland, Tournament Version

he High Seas Fleet has slipped anchor and threatens the blockade. Can the Grand Fleet find it and bring on the decisive battle of the war?  Will Jellicoe be able to concentrate his overwhelming power? Will Sheer be able to trap and defeat apart of the Grand Fleet? Double-blind task force map plotting including U-Boats and Zeppelins. Search for your foe and engage with miniatures on the tabletop.
GMs will assist and mentor players but familiarity with AH Jutland rules would be helpful.

S-244 - Jutland-the second team, August 6, 1914
Sat. 1:00:00 PM, 5hrs, 20 players
GM:Dave Emdee
WWI 1:1200, Rules: Victoryat Sea
 What if the german navy come out on the first day ofWW1.  This is part 3 of 4 parts (parts 1and 4 played at Historicon 2012).  Thisevent will see the early dreadnoughts pound each other in a grand fleetaction.  Bellerophons, St. Vincentsagainst Westfalens and Helgolands.
rules taught (approx 3minutes)


Two events, same session.   One is overtly complicated, the other requires three minutes to explain to rules.  Hmmmm

S-109 - BOLT ACTION Demonstration presented by WWPD
Sat. 1:00:00 PM, 2hrs, 4 players
GM:Judson MacCaull with Dano Colon and W.W.P.D.podcast
WWII 28mm, Rules: BoltAction
 An introduction to BOLT ACTION, the 28mm WWII miniature battle game by Warlord Games and Osprey. Spectators are encouraged!
Ages 13+

S-186 - Civil War Playtest
Sat. 5:00:00 PM, 4hrs, 6 players
GM:Jake Strangeway and Test of Battle Games
American Civil War 28mm, Rules: Men Under Fire
 No description provided


S-130 - Do the Bash, Do the Monster Bash
Sat. 6:00:00 PM, 5hrs, 12 players
GM:John Rigley
Sponsor: Eureka Miniatures, Prize: unspecified
19th Century 25mm, Rules: HomeRules
It's midnight and theirs a full Moon. So grab your Pitchforks and torches , and get ready to defend your town.  Theirs no telling what kind of Creature  will come crawing out of the dark of night. So stock up on the sivler and wooden stakes. Because that bump you hear in the night will eat you!
Adult must be presentwith child

S-252 - Battle of Yalu River
Sat. 7:00:00 PM, 3hrs, 8 players
GM:Brian DeWitt and NOVAG
19th Century 1:2400, Rules: WhenDreadnoughts Ruled the Seas

Refight the largest naval battle of the First Sino-JapaneseWar which occurred September 17, 1894 . The Japanese fleet is attempting to disrupt the landing of Chinese troops.  The Chinese fleet attacked in an unconventional line-a-breast formation.  Historically the battle lasted most of the day.  No previous experience with the rules required.

S-249 - Rescuing General Gordon
Sat. 7:00:00 PM, 4hrs, 6 players
GM:Bob & Cleo Liebl with Cleo Liebl and FirstFriday Gamers
Sponsor: The Cookieman, Prize: Cookies of course!
Colonial 28mm, Rules: Swordand the Flame

General Gordon is trapped in Khartoum. It's up to you to invade the Sudan, conquer their forces, and free Gordon.  Or, it's up to you to defend the Sudan  and route the invader.  Who's the good guys?  Why your side, of course.  Determine the fate of the Sudan with Bob& Cleo Liebl.
Cherubs less than 15 require an adult.

S-218 - Rorke's Drift
Sat. 7:00:00 PM, 3hrs, 6 players
GM:Bill Molyneaux and Gettysburg Gamers
Colonial 15mm, Rules: Home/Mix

Rorke's drift with area movement system one page of rules...very fast to play hard to master..this game is a lot of fun if you are not looking for detail in a game but just roll the dice and take the compound  as the Zulus. If you decide to be the British you have a lot to worry about the hospital...even Pip the dog will be there.

S-307 - Chechen Ambush, November 17, 2004
Sat. 7:00:00 PM, 4hrs, 6 players
GM:Mike Pierce
Modern 15mm, Rules: Forceon Force

After a week if fighting, the Marines of 3/1 moved into the Queens District in Fallujah.  Waiting inambush were foreign fighters, the so-called Wolves of Islam, highly experienced Chechen veterans of the battles in Grozny.  Their mission was to die fighting forAllah.  The Marines mission was to helpthem achieve that goal.
Adult must be presentwith child.

S-308 - Hitting First - Afghanistan 2011
Sat. 7:00:00 PM, 4hrs, 6 players
GM:Michael Byrne with Patrick Byrne
Modern 28mm, Rules: Forceon Force

The Taliban have re-emerged in Helmand Province.  Intelligence reports confirm a village is being used as a Taliban logistics site. A combined arms USMC task force is being sent to clear the Taliban from the village.  Will the Taliban stay and fight?  If so can the Marines take the village?

www.fall-in.org for more info.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Apathy of New Releases (October 2012)

Ah, the post-con doldrums, when game companies eschew new releases in favor of rolling around in the cash that they pulled in at GenCon (or going into rehab for the alcoholism they developed in Indy.)

Despite every other bookseller or store wanting to ramp up for the holidays, the gaming industry produces little .  When Osprey reserves this month to publish AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ALBATROS ACES OF WORLD WAR I  and ITALIAN MEDIUM TANKS 1939-45, you know that the gems will be few and far between.

My Want List
With money tight, I currently have a backlog of old want list, so nothing jumped out to take a place on my shopping list

My Money is No Problem
Big surprise here, my only item on this list is from WotC?  DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: DUNGEON!, the classic board game, is being released again, and unlike a number of their products relaunches, they don't appear to be screwing up a classic.   $19.99

Store List

Atlas Games
ARS MAGICA: AGAINST THE DARK — THE TRANSYLVANIAN TRIBUNAL    $29.95

Days of Wonder
SHADOWS OVER CAMELOT: THE CARD GAME
Darkness Descends over Camelot —again! As dark clouds gather over Brittany, it’s whispered that a Traitor may be conspiring against the Round Table to bring down the kingdom. Band together with your allies to dispel these rumors and defeat the Shadows in the Shadows Over Camelot: The Card Game! This fast-paced card game invites players to take on the role of the sons and daughters of the legendary Knights of the Round Table who unite to defeat the game itself, represented by a deck of Rumor cards that threaten to overwhelm Camelot. Scheduled to ship  in December 2012.
DOW 7404............................$25.00

From the Ticket to Ride people...definitely worth a look.

Dream Pod9
FORGED IN FIRE: THE SOUTHERN FIELD GUIDE   DP9 9266C..............................$65.00
I swear Heavy Gear seems to exceed Games Workshop with pricing with their figures.  Now they're rivaling their books.

Fantasy Flight
ONLY WAR: WARHAMMER  40,000 RPG CORE  RULEBOOK HARDCOVER  $59.95
ONLY WAR: WARHAMMER40,000 RPGGAME MASTER’S KIT  $24.95
Basically, this is the Imperial Guard RPG.  Hoo-ray for cannon fodder!

WARHAMMER FANTASY ROLEPLAY: THE ENEMY WITHIN HC  $59.95
The classic WH module gets a full overview. Does anybody know what it cost when it first came out?

Mongoose
TRAVELLER: PRIME DIRECTIVE  $39.95
Traveller meets Trek

Paizo
GAMEMASTERY MAP PACK: ICE CAVERN  12.99
PATHFINDER PATH: SHATTERED STAR PART 5 - INTO THE NIGHTMARE RIFT $19.99
PATHFINDER CAMPAIGN SETTING: IRRISEN -LAND OF ETERNAL WINTER   $19.99
PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION: ANIMAL ARCHIVE  $10.99
PATHFINDER TALES: CALLED TO DARKNESS  $9.99

Signal First
METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA RPG          $19.99
Some portions written by James Ward of TSR fan. The famous game is available again, let's hope somebody buys a copy or three.

USAopoly
DOCTOR WHO YAHTZEE 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION GAME
Remember, it's "Yahtzee" and not "Yowza"

WotC
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS:ED GREENWOOD PRESENTS ELMINSTER’S FORGOTTEN REALMS HC  $39.95

Return to Ravnica - already out, bread and butter pure profit for most.


Wizkids
BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY  STRATEGY GAME
DC HEROCLIX: BATMAN - STREETS OF GOTHAM BIRDS  OF PREY FAST FORCES PACK
DC HEROCLIX: BATMAN -STREETS OF GOTHAM

Monday, October 1, 2012

Losing the last shred of the Keeper's sanity

We did have our Call of Cthulhu game on Saturday. It evolved into an 8+ hour affair, complete with half-naked women, car doors to the head, government conspiracies, gypsy curses, calls to the loony bin for investigators... by their fellow investigators, long hidden secrets, horrifying magical abilities, a good dose of gore, and the prerequisite gun play with people a SAN point or two away from breaking.   The "good guys" saved the day, but they were still compiling at what cost as they returned to their homes.

A full write up of session #14 is forthcoming, although I need to write up #13 first.  Despite some losses, the core group gained four new converts who could combat the darkness hiding in the shadows of Manhattan.  I've also successfully made temporary "outs" for Balls' and Steve's characters, as players, one is an expecting father, and the other has a little newborn.

It was also the first time that "Dr Bob" has played in one of my games.  He has a dominant force, a good foil to Nate and Steve, I only had a few minor gaffes during the game, and an apparent act of GM fiat which will make much more sense when the game report is done.  Bob was already speaking of the next session, which means I need to start reading up on the four options.