Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blogger fo' life, yo!

Of all the technological advances in the past twenty years, the blog is the one item I can't believe I survived without it for so long.  It's everything I've ever tried to assemble with a notebook, a word processor, and eventually a computer.  A permanent footprint of everything I thought was good at the time, but would turn into the good, the bad, and ugly as I tried to wax nostalgic. 

I almost wish I had dates (and the nerve) to post-date posts from the distant past:

October 27, 1991 - Just finished off another Red Dawn/Napalm Death game.  Blew a hole in the Palmer Mall and blew up the old Pfizer plant.  Man, I'm going to play GURPS for everything but fantasy!

August 30, 1994 - I got the job at New Frontiers!  Assistant Manager to boot!  Gotta start playing Magic again, since that's all they're carrying.  Can't wait to take all those profits and invest them in the expansion of the role-playing and miniatures sections.  I still don't know why they dabble in 40K, a Rhino for $15 is outrageous!

March 12, 1997 - Made it down here in Lancaster at some historical wargaming convention called Cold Wars.  I have a bunch of books on Napoleon and Wargames Illustrated from Ron at the Game Trader and he's willing to give a good cut of the profits if I sell them all at their flea market.  Boy this place the con is held at (Host?) is a labyrinth and nobody seems to know what they're doing.  I just hope they buy everything, I don't think the Oldsmobile can handle another heavy laden trip back to Hightstown.  It's no Duster in it's heyday.

April, 2000 - Had a good time at the the Mid-Eastern Pennsylvania Gaming Convention (MEPACon), held at the Wind Gap Legion Hall.  We made some money at the table and played in a couple decent games.  Only con at the con:  I lost my copy of Zombies!   Hope there's a second one, just in case Mike isn't running Bogglecons for awhile....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

(Kickstarter) Fun and Forgetfulness in Alas Vegas

I'm no longer active on enough role-playing boards to normally follow-up on any RPG Kickstarters, but this one did everything put jump off my computer screen and smack me in the face.

Alas Vegas

"The player-characters begin the game by digging themselves out of a shallow grave in the desert, at midnight. They are naked, and they have no memory of who they are or how they got where they are. On the horizon is a scar of neon. There will be answers there. And trouble."

I love the concept of an "RPG miniseries"  Four sessions to figure out what's going on puts a time limit on character action and investigation, and looks to me a great "breather" game in between more serious games.  And I'm quite certain the rulebook will contain a formula for creating slight variations of a theme.

Hey, it worked for The Hangover!

The exciting thing for me is that the writer is James Wallis. James created the Once Upon a Time card game and founded Hogshead Publishing, which published Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and produced a number of these RPG miniseries style books, most notably The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen.  This should be a hoot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

NYC CoC #13: Blackest Hills, Blackest Secrets

New York, December 11, 1923

New York City proved to be the tonic to the ails of the weary. Dr. Nathaniel Millheim had been six months removed from his last mind altering Mythos episode and was at the top of his game as a pulp writer. Steven O'Hara was now a professor of physics at Columbia University, getting research offers, and giving his dilettante wife Angela enough social calls to satisfy the needs of her inflated ego. Only Brian Nichols had had a brush with the unusual. The doctor tired of charlatans and had sent him to evaluate a spiritual medium who was better than advertised, with unintended consequences. Despite this shake to his stability, he maintained his role as the doctor's agent without any issue.

And then that damned telegram showed up at Steven's door.

It was from Kevin Norbridge, Director of Operations at NWI's Windy Point Mine.  Steven had been recommended by a number of sources to help the mine deal with a number of unusual circumstances.  Norbridge had arranged a time to call and when he did,  he mentioned a number of the miners had come down with a mysterious illness, and something more than scientific might be blame.  O'Hara and any associates of his who were willing to come up South Dakota to aid them would be well compensated.   Steven looked at the Christmas list his wife wrote for him and agreed on the spot.  Norbridge wired the money for tickets the following morning.

Steven gave the group the low down on the mission and some preliminary research was done.  New World International was a multi-national conglomerate located in Chicago with interests in most industries, primarily in mining, petrol, shipbuilding, and tech research. Nothing could be uncovered about the mine operations.

Outside of the purchase of some proper winter coats for a frigid trip to the Badlands, the group was on a train headed to Rapid City via Chicago.

The train ride into Chicago was pleasant, and to Milwaukee, relaxing.   The remaining stretch through Minnesota and South Dakota in an eerily empty car was unsettling.  All that was left in the lounge car was

Dr. Nathaniel Millheim: Parapsychologist and recent pulp writer
Professor Steven O'Hara: Professor of Physics at Columbia University
Brian Nichols: crooked bookkeeper and assistant to Dr. Millheim

Two gentlemen remained in the car with them:
Michael Dalcin:  struggling chef who had signed a contract with NWI to run the mess at Windy Point. 
Jeff McGranahan:  mechanic and truck driver out of Philly.  Also going to work at NWI.

They decided against advising them of the odd illnesses.

At the Rapid City station, they were met by Scott Wallace. It was a pleasant surprise for Steven, as he was one of his associates during the war.  What a geologist was doing with his research group, he couldn't remember, but he was a good fellow. He was now working as a supervisor at the Windy Point.

The investigators got the cab of the truck, while the new hires jumped in the covered back.  Wallace got the trio up to speed.   While the federal government had given the land to the Sioux, it had partitioned a portion of it to NWI for a mining lease.  Despite the whole "Despoiling Mother Earth" garbage they like to say, the Sioux weren't complaining about the jobs the mine brought to their community. 

Then the suicides happened. Eight in total, they were from the men you would not expect to succumb to such a thing.  Then the illnesses rolled in.  Six had been afflicted with some ailment which the camp doctor could not diagnose or treat.  The Indians started to quit en masse, with whispers of evil spirits cursing the site.  Wallace had remembered Steven's "unorthodox" ways to dealing with things, and decided to contact his parents for his information.

The remainder of the drive was uneventful, save the duo in the back occasionally seeing a lone horseman off in the distance, watching the truck drive by.

When they arrived at the mine, the whole facility was in an uproar, Director Norbridge was killed in his office!

Norbridge's body was seated at his desk.  His body was slumped back in his chair, with a surveyor's pick protruding from his forehead.  Dr Simmons, the camp doctor, mumbled something about murder and staggered out into the night, leaving the group alone in the office with at least a half hour before sheriff would finally arrived.  Besides the body of Norbridge, one thing stood out in the office:  a strange spiralling unsettling diagram drawn in chalk on the far wall.  Everyone else was taken aback by it, except for Steven, who could at best figure out it had something to do with atomic or quantum theory.  He had had enough trouble trying to explain a dimensional portal to his group, there was no way he was even going to attempt this one.

Sheriff Updike made an appearance, walked around the office, and declared it a murder, probably by those bloodthirsty Indians.  Even the new hires, who were still hanging around with the group, knew that looked fishy, even if they didn't know how.   Wallace put an armed guard at the door and found quarters for the group to catch some shuteye before they continued.  He also around Michael and Jeff to aid the group with anything they needed until they were finished here.

Safely within the confines of the camp, the group did something that normally spells doom in a CoC game:  they split up the party.  Nichols and Dalcin went back to the office to look over the journals and ledgers that Norbridge was going over before the attack.  The rest went to the infirmary to get a grasp on the illnesses and try to wrap their heads around the suicides.

Between the combined efforts of the bookkeeper and the chef, they could separate the blood soaked pages and determined that a significant percentage of ore that was being mined was never leaving the facility, yet it could not be accounted for. 

At the infirmary, the group to barely compose themselves upon watching these sick men also fall apart before their eyes.  Dr Simmons had tried everything he knew after fifty years as a country doctor, but nothing could so much as comfort them.  To make things worse, another five miners had showed up for sick call complaining about feeling achy and exhausted.  The only thing the fellas could ascertain was that the afflicted miners all suffered from nightmares and all of them were from one of the barracks.  They ripped apart the buildings but found nothing.

That night they got together at the office to try and piece this together.  Except for putting out a theory that Norbridge may have killed himself out of fear, there were few leads. 

The next day they paced around the motor pool and the storage areas. Except for finding some of the trucks out of place in the motor pool, they found no solid evidence.    Against the advice of Wallace, they got horses and decided to ride out to the Sioux Reservation to ask about the evil spirits.

Upon entering their lands, they were met by a number of heavily armed Sioux, that wished to do more harm than ask any questions.  Just as the investigators were about to turn away, very very fast,  a lone Sioux rode up, told the others that the investigators were invited guests and led them into their village.  They were led inside a small building where they were to the tribe's medicine man, Tommy Morning Star.    In a circle, Tommy spoke of a strange group of giant locusts who were there on the mine lands way before the Sioux even stood a foot on this land.  It took great sacrifice, and the combined effort all the people, but the Arikasia were sent scurrying underground.   Even the medicine men thought little of the trap creatures until the white men came to dig them up.  Tommy offered to teach a sacred song to the investigators to keep the creatures at bay, until they can find a better solution.  Dr. Millheim and Steven picked up the song, while the others couldn't even muddle through it effectively.  Jeff was even having doubts that anyone it this part of the country was even sane. 

The group trudged through the cold back to the mine, and they could see trucks leaving the facility, something that was not on any schedule.  They raced back to the motor pool, grabbed two trucks, and did their best to catch up to, and follow them. 

The trucks reached a far part of the property and the men in the trucks descended into an abandoned mine.  The investigators stayed out of sight until the miners returned a few hours later and drove back to the base. 

The group made some headway into the mine shaft, only to be met with a buzzing sound, followed by a swarm of giant 2-foot long locusts!  They dashed to one of the trucks and Dr Millheim barely find the breath to start the song.  To every one's amazement, the locusts stopped in their tracks, hovering a few feet from them.  As the singers regained their composure, their singing was louder and the locusts were pushed back further.    

Michael took the truck he had driven there, and floored it into the mine. With the giant locusts swarming the truck, Michael crawled through the back window of the truck, into the canvas covered back.  He hurried with the cases of dynamite he had tossed in the back as the locust wriggled their way into the truck.  Finally, the dynamite lit, Michael dove out the back of the truck and scurried on his hands and knees, barely reaching the outer edge of the song's effect before the explosion tore through the small valley.  The mine entrance was completely collapsed, and the few remaining locusts were easily rounded up by the group before they decided to return to the camp.

The lone truck rolled in before dawn, just in time for breakfast.  After getting the attention of all the miners, Steven and Dr Millheim did the song one more time for "entertainment purposes."  As the sang, nine miners began to writhe in pain, along with Scott Wallace!  Each fell to the floor of the mess hall, and one of the locusts exited their mouths!  Between the investigators and the miners, these rogue vermin were quickly killed.

Steven had ultimately figured out that the miners were suffering from something akin to radium poisoning, so Dr Simmons could do something for those with early symptoms.. Something seemed rather odd, though.  They had been mining a number of items, including pitchblende. Pitchblende was the most radioactive substance they had been working with, and even in large quantities, would not induce sickness.  Just what was in that locust cave?  It was probably better left a mystery, buried under tons of rock.

By the end of business that day, Wallace had contacted NWI headquarters and they had responded in kind. If questioned, headquarters would claim that Norbridge forced double and even triple shifts for the workers, and they lashed out in retaliation.    Wallace was promoted to director.  By evening the group had been paid (including a bonus for the new hires) and on a train back to New York.  The trio refilled their flasks with Canadian whiskey from the mine commissary and by Minnesota were trying to sort out what they were doing. Perhaps juvenile fiction and college seminars were far better than trying to combat these dark forces.  At least they would have some time over the holidays to think things through.

That's what they thought, at least.

Monday, January 28, 2013

(Kickstarter) Black Hat WW1 Halfling Update

I had previously mentioned the Black Hat Kickstarter for WW1 French Halflings here.

With such a low base goal and stretch goals, it's not surprising that they blew through a number of them with time to spare. Most recently, the last stretch goal will have a squad of Halflings in Adrian helmets. The next goals deal with machine gun and 37mm mortar crews, but it's the second to last one listed that piqued my interest.

While Halfling cav at. £4000 will look similar to the US Cav for Gnome Wars.  At £3500 they will produce a French Halfling Field Kitchen. If that is reached we have truly reached the Golden Age of Miniatures.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

RIP: Lynn Willis

I found out yesterday through yog-sothoth.and that Lynn Willis passed.  Lynn had been a long time Chaosium employee since 1978.

Now that name doesn't bring up the same grandeur as Gary Gygax, or, in the world of Chaosium, Sandy Peterson, but it should.

I'm piecing together from numerous sources just how awesome this guy.  Please understand, that when this guy got his first game published, the lowly text editor for it was a young guy named Steve Jackson (the American version).  He joined Chaosium in 1978 for boardgames, but became an integral part of their role-playing games.  He was given the title of co-creator of Call of Cthulhu and was Line Editor for it until his retirement just a few years ago.  He has had a hand in just about every product Chaosium has produced from 1st to 6th edition Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, and Elric. He played a crucial role in making CoC the well respected horror game it has always been.

From the Chaosium announcement, his credits as writer and editor.

CREDITS: Chaosium Dude since 1978; co-creator of Call of Cthulhu. Other credits include BOARD GAMES: Dragon Pass, Lords of the Middle Sea, Stomp, Reich, Raiders and Traders, Panzer Pranks, Arkham Horror. ROLEPLAYING GAMES: Basic Roleplaying, M.U. Graduate Kit, Keeper's Kit 1, 2, Engage & Destroy, Vive l'Empreur, Thieves' World, Thieves' World Companion, Worlds of Wonder, Ringworld, Ringworld Companion, King Arthur Companion 1, 2, 3, RuneQuest 1, 2, 3, etc., Apple Lane 1, 2, etc., Snakepipe Hollow 1, 2, etc., Cults of Prax 1, 2, etc., Cults of Terror, Borderlands, Pavis, The Big Rubble, Questworld, Stormbringer Companion, Demon Magic, Cities, Carse, Tulan of the Isles, Elric, Melnibone, Fate of Fools, Bronze Grimoire, Atlas of the Young Kingdoms, Seas of Fate, The Unknown East, Cthulhu Live, Call of Cthulhu 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6, Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, The Asylum, Cthulhu Companion, Fragments of Fear, Masks of Nyarlathotep, Alone against the Wendigo, Alone against the Dark, Cthulhu by Gaslight, Dreamlands, Spawn of Azathoth, Terror Australis, Great Old Ones, Cthulhu Now, Arkham Unveiled, At Your Door, Fatal Experiments, Blood Brothers, Blood Brothers II, Horror on the Orient Express, Cairo Guidebook, Dark Designs, Fearful Passages London Guidebook, King of Chicago, Miskatonic University, Taint of Madness, Compact Arkham Unveiled, Booke of Monstres 1 and 2, No Man's Land, Horror's Heart, Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep, Resection of Time, Secrets, Dreaming Stone, Before the Fall, Last Rites, Beyond the Mountains of Madness, M.U. Antarctic Expedition Pack, Unseen Masters, Keeper's Companion 1. FICTION: Castle of Eyes, Hastur Cycle, Singers of Strange Songs, Complete Pegana, Nightmare's Disciple, Percival, Bear of Britain, Book of Dzyan, S. Petersen's Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters, S. Petersen's Field Guide to Creatures of the Dreamlands.

And after all of that, they failed to mention that he co-wrote the Ghostbusters RPG   Ghostbusters was the first RPG to focus on the dice pool resolution method, which was completely innovative at the time and spawned such games as Star Wars d6 and the entire World of Darkness line from White Wolf.  Plus it was a hoot to play!

It's always sad to lose an influential member in our hobby. It's even sadder when it's one of the Old Guard whose contributions allowed us to play the games we do today. 

Rest well, sir.  It is well earned.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Better Gnomes and Gardens

I normally post about gaming, but with a name like Gaming with the Gnomies, I should be covering the anything gnome-related on note (gnote?).

My cousin, Linnea, shot me a quick note, "I thought you would like this!" :

Apparently this is a big to-do in the gnome landscaping community:

My first thought was, "I guess you should start planning your Spring gardening in the Winter."    I don't plan on cutting down any trees and decorating any stumps, but a few doors on existing trees should make the girls giggle.

My second thought was gaming related.  These would make great decorations for garden wargaming!  Sure, we might need to accumulate actual garden gnomes to play (300mm minimum?), but a nice toybox rebellion game in 54mm couldn't hurt from these scenic additions.

Then again, I should be happy I have no yard work as of now:  I can't get any gaming stuff done now and I only have snow shoveling to worry about.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Apathy of New Releases (February 2013)

It may be 8 degrees here in Pennsylvania, but at Alliance, their Game Trade Magazine is focusing on a lot of post Easter sales.  There's a few oddities in this month's issue, but I'll cover them in the store section.

My must-have want list
Nothing.  There are enough things just off the traditional distributor model that I want, let's not add anything this month, m'kay?

The money is no object list
I've been hearing a lot about Fanticide since July.  This is the first time I've had a chance to look at the minis, and I barely see the appeal.  The one thing that jumps out at me is their Flying Monkeys warband.  For $90.00, I would need to know why this is superior to the Eureka Flying Monkeys.  Luckily, they offer individual blisters of the minis, so I may need to add Fanticide and Eureka monkeys on my Cold Wars shopping list and make a review.

Pic from
One of the Offered Again (O/A) items in the book are State Maps for Catan   Multiple states are listed and I'm interested in the Penn-Jersey version for $30.00.  Insert your favorite wood for sheep joke in your favorite/least favorite region.

The Imaginary Store List for the Pegleg Gnome
Two things stand out in the latest issue of GTM if I'm a store owner.  First, there is a much larger percentage of product (O/A) offered again.  This is a confusing term as they do us this to cover items that were never solicited in the monthly book, as well as "friendly" reminders to stores to restock their established lines, like Munchkin.   Most of the O/A items in this issue are newer product that may have hit the weekly email solicitations that stores get, but there was little chance of customer feedback.

Second, numerous companies are releasing playmats, I assume for CCGs. I haven't seen a proliferation of these at this magnitude since the Spellgrounds were made in the early days of Magic.  Don't know why they started up again, and most of them are listed as "PI" which means the stores are getting less than their normal discount rate to purchase them.  If they are affordable, at least they can be set up to only take up a minimal amount of shelf space.
Legend of the Five Rings CCG Torn Asunder Boosters.


Cubicle 7
The Doctor Who RPG:  The Fourth Doctor Sourcebook.    $39.99

I mentioned the Freeblades Fantasy Skirmish game two months ago.  Still haven't seen any other news or pictures about it, but here's another solicitation for individual figures.  Still can't wrap my head around a militia spearmen costing as much ($5.99) as much as an apprentice knight.

Expeditious Retreat Press

Fantasy Flight Games

Gale Force 9
Deep Space Battle Mat                        $39.95

Goodman Games

Two goblin units, some Goblin Mawbeast set with five figures for $45 bucks and a Goblin War Trombone for $19.99  I'd give the trombone a shot just for the name.

Margaret Weis

Open Design

$ 9.99

Pokemon Compnay Int'l

I've seen a pile of people's FLGS in the past month and almost all of them have some group of pla ers in the back of some picture with Pokemon cards.  This game will not die and there's no reason not to profit from it.

Wizards of the Coast
If it's updated with the errata as promised, this could be awesome.  Between this and the pdfs being available, it's a good week to be a grognard.

Forty bucks for 12 cheap plastic minis and some rules/handouts.

            BOOSTER WOC A07030000..............................................................$24.99
            TWO-PLAYER STARTER SET WOC A07040000 ............................$39.99

Another wave after wave of stuff....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Michael Lung Gallery #15

It has been awhile since I showcased any of Mike's work. Since Cold Wars last year, he has had a tremendous number of projects this year without a proper venue to display them.

He's been a busy busy beaver since the fantastic introduction of his Gnome Headhunters to complement his Znombies.

Mike's latest project involve Reaper's Mousling line, more specifically the space mouslings I mentioned here.

What happens when you can get the space troopers individually, make a few changes, and put the Lara Croft mousling into more space-appropriate clothing?  


Freakin' awesome as always.  The custom board undernearth?  You may have some ideas of what he's trying to do, but he just starting playtesting and I'll give him more time before unveiling the rest of the project.

More importantly, Mike, I want a game at Cold Wars.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wizards Finally Puts PDFs Back Online

I've got other posts to announce, but this one was the biggest surprise.

Wizards of the Coast, in conjunction with, has released 80 of its books as PDFs. These titles stretch the history of the the game, and range from $4.99 to $17.99.

For starters it is nice to have these available again in digital form after a lengthy. All PDFs are rumored to be improved new scans, not the pencil marked versions that were available before. Even better, the PDFs are searchable.

Of course, the biggest problem for me has been getting on the site! has been down due to volume all day.

(Kickstarter) Gnomish Adventurers

Stonehaven Miniatures out of Virginia has announced a Kickstarter for Gnomish Adventurers.

If I have any issue with this project, it's the Dungeonpunk 3rd Edition feel of the concept art. The good news is the look their dwarf Kickstarter has here doesn't have the same vibe.

The $39 level is the obvious choice. Nine minis (stretch goals are pretty much a given) plus a bunch of extras is a perfect price. Sure, it isn't Reaper treasure trove, but quality minis at a decent price with a humble Kickstarter goal should always succeed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

(Gnome Wars) New Russian Gnomes

First off, I rarely check my Twitter account, but was pleasantly surprised to find Lon from Brigade Games had tweeted about new releases.

There were rumors of new Russians at Fall-In!, but but until now, no one could confirm or deny their existence.

Russian Gnome w/ Hammer and Sickle  $4.00

Russian Gnome, Firing  

Russian Gnome Officer   $4.00

Russian Gnome NCO  $4.00
Russian Gnome Fabrege Egg Grenadier

Also listed without picture is a Russian Priest (medic), a Russian Grenadier with Molotov Cocktail, Russian Rifles in Advancing pose, and separate listings for an officer and nco with different stock numbers.

These new Russians are hitting new price territory, some hitting $5 apiece. Not surprising, as metal costs keep rising. The good news is Lon still set up the army deal for $47.00,  The original Russian Sentry fig is still  available of only $3.50.

The one thing that should scare any player is this pic, taken off the promotional tweet:

Cossack cavalry should rival the Japanese Samurai cav in effectiveness. Put them on FREAKING BEARS and they become absolutely terrifying. While they weren't appearing on the mobile version of the web site, they are listed on the full sight so individual and army sale ($8 apiece/$65 for a unit with a bugler and regular cav armed with blunderbusses?)

Check out Brigade Games here for more info.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

1st Painting Day with Daddy 2013

This was the first weekend of the year that my wife had to work at her second job, so I get full Mr Mom duties starting at about 10pm Friday and running through Sunday evening.  Knowing that the two of us together barely get half of our to-do list done on a regular weekend, I've given up on the Martha Stewart crap and just kept the toys manageable, the dishes clean, and some laundry put away.

And always find some time to paint...

The Ladies of Paint, Millie and Maja
At  2 and 4, neither of them are going to paint some Old Guard in 15mm in brilliant detail, so we keep it simple and fun.  I had swung by Michael's Friday after work and snagged up two dollar Valentine birdhouses   and a bunch of Craftsmart paint on clearance for 3/$1.

The good news is that Millie no longer wants to paint her hand versus the project. Even better, they each still have half of the their birdhouses to paint at a later day.  

And me?  I managed to get paint on a figure for the first time in months.  I had snagged up a bunch of plastic Empire troops on eBay (re: Mordheim plastics) and I can't remember when I last painted proportionate humans.  I spent more time rationing paint to the girls than working on my own, plus whoever assembled them failed to clean up the figs before priming them for me.  Complaints aside, for $0.99 and part of a multiple wins, they're great warm-up figures.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Mind is Like a Muppet on Speed

After a prodigious December of posts, my mind has turned to spastic mush.   Two little girls who alternate between contracting illnesses and acting like night owls, a wife with a million projects on top to the list we can't catch up on, and enough animals that would give Dr Doolittle pause,  I've had zero time to pause, reflect, and give serious consideration to gaming. 

True,  my nightly walks with our annoying Lab, Pokey, have gone longer, and that is where I scheme the most, but once I walk into the house, I have no time to write it down, or even plop down in front of the computer for five minutes.   I have managed to jot a few topics in the Blogger app for the iPhone, but my Hulk-like fingers don't accomodate the keypad and sleep deprevation makes my incoherent ramblings even more difficult to edit.

It's another Daddy Gaming Weekend, so there should be a post of our activities after the weekend, but I would love to work on the backlog of blog drafts I've had:
  • (Illuminati University) Attack of the Zombie Nazi Coffee Junkies:  Our annual Risus IOU game deserves a quick write-up, if I can assemble the character sheets. 
  • The German-American War Background:  When I first started Samoa, I based my options on What-If scenario of part of the American fleet heading to the Phillipines in 1898 getting diverted to take Samoa from a stronger German presence.  As more people pick up American Gnome forces, I may continue this.
  • The History of the Gnome World, Parts 1 & 2:   Part one is a mostly fluff piece to set up the origins of the gnomes going through the Gnoman Empire and finally ending with the original Nomepoleon.  Part two would cover the post- omepoleonic Wars and give players options for the 19th Century wars.
  • 40K and Other Ailments: A rant about watching people play 40K, online and in person.
  • Call of Cthulhu for Grown Ups?:  Giving up Hack-n-Slash things in adulthood.
  • NYC CoC #13: Blackest Hills, Blackest Secrets:  I am working on this.  I need a quiet night, a couple drinks, and my source material to complete this correctly.  This needs to be completed so the new players have proper information about the group's former exploits. 
  • NYC CoC #14: The Pennywell Hangmen:  After #13.  All in good time.
  • The Michael Lung Gallery #15
  • (TIARA) The Octonauts Role Playing Game: I kid you not.  Again, quiet, beer, and time is all I need for a full write-up.
  • Russian Women Want Gaming Partners!  Ditto on this...  Some of you may know where this orginates from.
  • Elfball Review:  A placeholder for when Nichols and I have the time to playtest this version from Impact Miniatures.
I gots some work to do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hackmaster: The Journey of Mutumbo #11: Finally Hydincall!

It's been a long time since I posted an Actual Play report from my old Hackmaster group, but I found the next one 3/4 written in my email.

The previous entries can be found here.  I may set up a page for this and Cthulhu for a more enjoyable reading experience... or something like that.

Mutumbo: Nubian warrior who completed a quest for his tribe.  Now wandering in search of adventure.
Cecelia Darkspruce: half elf cleric/sorority girl of Sif. 
Lord Ralphus:  Pixie Fairy who thinks he's king of the world
Kalin Sworin:  Human cleric of Akana.  Looking for his brother Dalmar (former PC, now deceased).
The Drow with No Name:  very "mysterious" Drow fighter.

The group continued on to the Crosedean capital of Hydincall.  Outside of the village of Shrewsdale, they rescued a small boy from quicksand and spent a second night there as small heroes.

The next night the pixie fairy was acting strange at the encampment, mumbling, picking fights, and trying to set the donkey on fire. The next morning some of the party's equipment was gone, as well as the Lord Ralphus and the donkey.

When the group arrived at the gates of the massive captial, they asked
around, and yes, people did remember seeing the pixie fairy and the donkey. In fact, the donkey was just a few feet away from them, completely stripped of supplies!

Angered, Cecelia leaves the group to hit a small shrine to Sif and begins a hopeless mission of finding their stuff and bringing the thieves to justice. Disenbowling a certain pixie fairy would just be a fun hobby.

Back at the inn, Mutumbo finally came clean with Kalin, admitting that he knew Dalmar was missing since there visit to the village of Orlane.  He told another white lie that Dalmar had scheduled a rendevouz point in Hydincall if they ever got separated.  Kalin seemed fine with the situation, so long as he could eventually see his brother.

The Drow with no Name left with the inn with a man named Game and dwarf named Steve, and partied.
The other mopey PCs met Markus the elf, and he volunteered to help find Dalmar.

The serving boy announced that there was a dead gnome in the outhouse.  Kalin performed last rites and contacted the guard for burial. When Kalin returned, the inn was aflame, but all their remaining supplies were saved by Cecelia. The serving boy Dimitri offered his place (roommates with Game and Steve) and the group crashed.
As the group emerged from the party home of Game and Steve, they staggered into a carnival atmosphere.  It was the Hydincall (world) Gladiator Championships!  Pit fighters from all over the world descended onto Crosedes and their 30,000 seat arena to show off their prowess.  Markus and Mutumbo went to arena to inquire about fighting, while Kalin volunteered his healing services for the games as a penitence for his sins.  All were accepted. 

After an opening extravaganza worthy of a magical Olympics, the low level fighting began, as did the rain.  The rain came down in buckets and flooded the arena floor into a muddy mess, but not not one person left the stands, instead they screamed for more.  The matches themeselves turned into mud wrestling matches with weapons, and since most bouts were fought until one fighter simply submitted, the crowd became agitated. 

Finally it was time for Markus and Mutumbo to fight a quick bout before a larger bout involving multiple combatants and monsters was to commence.  The duo saluted the King in the stands, saluted each other....

and then the King stopped the fight.  The downpour turned into something more akin to a tropical storm than a lazy day of rain.  For the sake of the spectators and gladiators, the rest of the program for that day was cancelled.  They were more than welcome to return the following day for more excitement... and the early rounds of the "pro" tournament. 

The crowd grew angry, even to the point at hurling objects at the king's magically protected box.  Fearing some sort of riot, Markus and Mutumbo, looked at each other, nodded, and charged in combat.

Try as they would like, the pair attempted at staging an elaborate combat was futile.  The mud slowed them down too much.  However, when they decided to change the tempo of the fight from periods of furious combat, then allowing each other a moment of recovery, the crowd was reined back.  The two were still mud covered, but upright giving it everything they had, followed by some grandstanding by one as the other recovered. 

As the roar of the crowd grew, so did the accuracy of and damage dealt by the blows.  Kalin was forbidden to use magic and the combatants were getting worn down fast.  Finally, in a moment of martial prowess, Markus hit Mutumbo with tremendous force and the Nubian fell to the ground.  Kalin dashed out onto the arena floor, and Cecelia jumped from her seat to help her friend.  Only their combined efforts brought back Mutumbo from certain death. 

(Markus rolled a nat 20 on his combat roll.  The subsequent critical hit roll brought Mutumbo to -8.  The combined healing of the clerics was just enough to get him back to 2.)

The crowd loved every minute of it.

Of course, no one else wanted to go out and fight that day, forcing thousands of angry fans to riot through the city.   Markus and Mutumbo's fight is credited with keeping the disturbance at a minimum, although the torrential downpours that kept fires from burning out of the control and spreading probably helped too.
(Dalcin, the Pixie Fairy player was tiring of the ineffectiveness and general insanity of the player and decided he would officially go crazy and steal the party's stuff.  This would make the party appreciate the new character's generosity and accept him into the group.  Ironically, Markoos was the name of another elf back in my College AD&D game during the mid-90s.  That character was far more annoying and needed to be knocked down a few pegs before becoming one of the champions of equal rights for the elves in a humancentric world. 

The Hydincall Gladiator Championships was another development from that campaign, and whenever some city adventuring gets more investigative that combat-driven, I let the warriors in the party blow off some steam.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gnomish Space Marines: There's more than Squat Available

I've got a lot of spare time in my training class at work.  It's a bit of a refresher for me, and with a room full of new hires, I've got large blocks of time to doodles and working on gaming ideas.

The Gnomish Space Marines (GSM) concepts are pouring out of me now.   The GSM are the central focus of the game, but that doesn't mean there aren't other races (humans, etc).  This will allow for as many sci-fi minis to be used without completely breaking the bank, and allow some variety of characters/weapons when we begin play.  The GSM is not a racial fraternity, just the biggest, baddest muthas of the group have to be "Gnomes"

The biggest worry I had was finding enough GSM figures.  Most Squats are currently out of my budget, and Bob Olley's figures are fantastic, but there's no guarantee that all the figures will still be in production when I'm ready to order them.

Enter, Mike Lung, the GwtG intrepid modeller/sculptor/gamer/field correspondent  and unpaid reserach intern who found this:

While I have no guarantee that anything listed is still in production, I do know that Olley's Psychic Scrunts are getting phased out for the next big thing, so this was compiled awhile ago.

A few quick thoughts:
  • The Hasslefree Grymn look more like Space Halflings than gnomes.  Great figures and for once,  I like the oversized guns.
  • The Wessex Nazi Dwarfs from Outerspace might do for a nice theme game (Nazis of any sort make the best villans), although every time I look at them, Motorhead starts to play in my head.
  • Just from the single Black Hat pic, I hope those are still available.  I'll add them to my WW1 Goblin/Halfling extended wish list.
  • The Black Tree Space Dwarves are classic Rogue Trader, and despite the word "marine"  I like the padded armor, ball cap look of the classic Squats.  Yes, I'm tempted to paint a couple in Hunter Orange, but I don't think too many people would mind that.
  • Fenryll - The Power Armour fits more of my vision, although Hasslefree is working on a slightly larger version I could work with.    The halftrack goes on my extended  want  list as well.
  • RAFM - Wow, RAFM?  The heck with using these as GSM, I want a Mordheim warband with these badass muthas.
  • Velard - Classic and  clean.  Depending on price, might make for great "filler" troops  to expand my collection.
  • Alionas:  Sorry, those just look like morbidly obese Soviet troops.
  • Excalibur:  Definitely a more halfling feel, but I love the mini-gun.  If I get some Hasslefree WW1 Halflings, I think I found my heavy machine gun.
  • Foundry - too bad most of their seven dwarfs are out of print.
  • Ral Partha - The Shadowrun stuff makes some interesting PCs/Villans
  • Moonfleet - The gasmasks do make them look more like evil aliens
  • The rest of the listed are either OOP or have so few products that it's barely worth one's while.  Still not a bad selection of product for a line that people have considered dead for over 15 years.

Friday, January 11, 2013

500th Post!

Who knew that after over four and a half years that I could compile 500 posts?  Well, I did.  After all, I have a tendency to ramble about numerous interests and I survived the first 34 years on this planet without a blog to document my sheer awesomeness.  It was going to take awhile to start catching up.

And yes, on some odd data screen it says I have 512 posts as of this date, that's including all the posts I'm working on that will see the light of day... someday.
I'll also be nearing my 50,000 page view in the next month or too, so I'll reminesce again at 100,000 (or 1,000 posts) so as to not act like some aged ball player hitting above average milestones during his retirement tour. 

For those of you regulars, thanks!  I know how many of you are out there due to the pageviews of some of the unloved posts I write.  While some posts are absolute crap, it is a surprise that certain posts don't become a hit in the blogosphere... or even the latter Google-search-o-sphere, but it is nice that some people do read.

And while I'm at it, the biggest posts I wrote in 2012.

#1. (Historicon) Thursday Night Gnome Action. My report on H-con from Fredericksburg from my on-location reporter, Mike Lung.  Now #4 all-time.

#2. Hunting for Wizard of Oz Minis. This has gotten a few search results every day since I posted (and updated) it. #8 all- time.

#3. Feathers Fly at Rorke's Drift. A great game with my girls and I've used the chick rules a couple of times since. #9 all time.

#4 (Gnome Wars) Runaway Princess? No! Princess! Runaway! The latest scenario with the girls. A big hit on TMP. #10 all time.

#5 (Cold Wars) The Spoils of Cold Wars

#6. Contemptible Little Armies Review. I only wish we've gotten a few games under our belts to give more credence to the review.

#7 RIP: Nick Yutko. It is nice to see so many people cared about Nick.

#8 Rescuing the Ruby Princess... from a three year old. Maja's first role playing game, and first attempt at the Toddler Interactive Adventure Resolution Activity (TIARA)

#9 (TIARA) Belle's Birthday Brawl.  Another surprise favorite on TMP

#10 Cold Wars: The Battle of Apaula Heights.  I love that my Gnome/Samoa game hit the top 10.  It gives me more motivation to try it sans Gnomes

The number one post of all time is still the Settlers of Catan 15th Anniversary Edition I mentioned very early on.  Go ahead, pop those words into Google, and WHAM, I'm right there.  I don't think anything will ever supplant that.   The only things that barely scrape the popularity of the Settler post are all the Mouse Guard/Redfern/Mousling fans out there.  There are either a huge fanbase, or a few obsessive fanatics and I'm going to need restraining orders.

I already plotted out my plan for 2013 long ago, but in a nutshell, start expecting Samoan Civil War pics this summer, more Gnomes, more games with the kids, and I may catch up with my Cthulhu Actual Play sessions.  I may need to stay late at work for an hour or two and just finish typing the Cthulhu ones up.    They are certainly not condusive to a crazed home life with two kids, a dog, a cat, a bunch of strays hanging around outisde, and my lovely wife.                         

(Kickstarter) Black Hat French Halflings

Just when I thought the Kickstarter project is waning, something exciting finally comes along.

Black Hat Miniatures, producers of the WW1 German Goblins has started a Kickstarter project to give them an in-house opponent, French Halflings.

French Halfling General
The kickstarter project has a ridiculously low goal of £750, and most levels allow you to get the German Goblins as well.  Any pledge level over £28 comes with the Kickstarter exclusive French Halfling General.

We have British Halflings, French Halflings, German Goblins, and Russian Dwarves available on the other side of the pond.  Somebody has to get these all together on the battlefield!

Check out  their Kickstarter page for more information.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kobolds Ate My Free Adventure?

As I've covered in some older blog posts, I'm not a die-hard fan of the PDF for gaming. Sure, I probably have about a hundred various PDFs across laptops and flash drives, but the ones I normally reference are the ones I've already printed out.

That being said, you just can't beat the deal 9th Level Games is having through Drive Thru RPG.

First off, the deluxe edition of Kobolds Ate My Baby is available in digital form for only $6. I saw people acting like kobolds trying to get a hard copy of this at the last con auction, so six bucks is a steal.

Second, a free adventure, The Kobold, is also available as well.

" Wherein, a wizard* comes to the hobbit hole Kobold Caves looking for some assistance on an adventure, and which is basically just an excuse to smoke pipes, eat food, and sing songs. Kobolds will die, wizards will smoke pipes, and rambling prose describing the everyday life of a Kobold will be etched forever in your memory."

KAMB is a great beer and pretzels RPG, I would equate it to a well run Risus campaign. In fact parts of me what to combine KAMB, IOU, HoL, and whatever other odd acronyms I can find. I still have a theme Risus game to run next Labor Day, I just might add Kobold Gunfighters and child sacrifice.

You know, a regular Sunday afternoon.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Women in War, Men Being Jerks

The theme for this year's Cold Wars is Women in Warfare. It's not a primary subject for most wargamers. There's a better chance of gamer owning Amazons than WW2 Soviet female soldiers, so it's no surprise that theme games were sparse and fantasy-influenced. Some Soviet pilots, Queen Elizabeth vs the Spanish Armada, and I think one lowly Joan of Arc game rounded out the credible entries into the category.

It's surprising to find the vitriol online of male wargamers lambasting the choice of theme. Most fell into one of two categories. One avoided the logical portion of the argument that women in warfare had a narrow range of events and figures to do it justice and just lamented the fact that most women were victims of war through the destruction of men. The Second simply scorned the idea of women fighting, with all the time it was necessary to bake pie in the kitchen and all.

The overall opinions presented were truly sad. I'm not one to throw the word misogynist around, but in a hobby where most women are playing non-historical, With these attitudes pervading the historical tables, it's little wonder most women in the hobby are found around the pulp, weird sci-fi, and fantasy related games.

While I'm not a huge supporter of the theme, I was anticipating some more imaginative games than the ones submitted. One GM on TMP even admitted openly that's his Vietnam-era game was a theme game because one of the VC figures was female. Really?

The funny thing is, with the popularity of 28mm skirmish games, no one decided to cover the whole Private Jessica Lynch story from the Iraq War.

Ah, maybe it's just me. Or maybe the Grognards are just getting more annoying in my old age.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Little Wars Turns 100!

For a historical wargamer, I saw a lot of talk about celebrating anniversaries last year.  There was a rather vocal minority that wanted every HMGS (East) con theme to cover the 200th Anniversary of certain Napoleonic battles, or the War of 1812, and most of them weren't the manufacturers of product for that era.  A few of my reenactor friends are miffed that there's still no public hubbub over the the continuing 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.  I scoff at all them, as with the coming of 2013, we can give proper thanks for a true event that shaped our lives.

This year is the 100th Anniversary of the publishing of Little Wars by H.G. Wells. One hundred years of "recreational" wargaming. Sure, the kriegspiels done by Prussian staff officers could be recreated as a leisure activity, but they had a primary educational goal of training the officer corps.

The idea of well-to-do men clearing out rooms of their house to build imaginary towns and terrain to be conquered by legions of toy soldiers seems preposterous today, much less back in 1913.

Despite there being roughly a 40 year gap between Little Wars and the dawn of modern wargaming, Wells deserves praise for admitting his little hobby to the world, and a simple concept at that.  Firing was a skill was a skill of manual dexterity, flinging objects (toothpicks and such) at opposing units. Melee was a matter of utter annihilation, as equally matched units would simply kill each other to the man (unequal combatants may lead to the capturing of prisoners, although no POW camps out of blocks made it into the book.)

It also promoted the concept of Garden Wargaming, setting up your soliders outside in good weather and having a go at it.  As a child of the 80's, when anything spring loaded was banned, the idea of actually shooting stuff would have made resolving our own backyard battle squabbles a bit easier.
After 100 years, this version of "tin murder" is still being played out in drawing rooms and backyards today.  One of the blogs I follow, Funny Little Wars has even expanded to a full web site, here, and is even hosting a "competition" this April.  On the blog section of the new web site they even managed to to celebrate the new year by recreating the epic combats between Norway and Denmark, circa 1905.

I may need to dust off my copy of Little Wars (and it's predecessor, Floor Games) and give them a thorough review.  Both are available online as part of Project Gutenburg, although Floor Games is lacking any pictures.

With demos of Wooden Wars at Cold Wars to stoke the fires, this might just be enough to break out and reinforce my Britains.  Perhaps the Autocracy of Bubbania can rise again and find a worthy competitor in Pennsylvania.

Project Gutenburg - Little Wars
Project Gutenburg - Floor Games