Saturday, August 31, 2013

More Podcast Fun

It's been a long long week. Undermanned at work, three new projects at work on top of the six existing ones, plus solving disasters faster than they can hit the fan, I'm freakin' awesome, and equally exhausted.

I'm still plugging away at the Miskatonic University Podcast, finishing up to episode 17, but also grabbing the newer 36 and 37 to be a little more current to gaming news and such.   Still great stuff, even if the episodes are now breaking through the two hour mark.  

I've started trying a two others with different. 

The Friends of Jackson Elias is a podcast operated by some of  fine folks at  I got through their half hour episode and between the pace, the banter, and the thick accent on top of it, I'll pass.  My podcast time every night fits their episodes perfectly, but I want something more out of it. 

One podcast that may make the cut is Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.   Pretty lame title, until you realize that the duo is Ken Hite and Robin D Laws.   This is a podcast that is worth your time and money if they charged). I decided against picking up some early episodes and went with the latest episode and was not disappointed.  Their main gaming topic was languages in a campaign setting and I was saddened that they made a hard stop when the section hit its time limit.  Fantasy and sci-fi linguistics and their effects on culture, societal interactions, and gameplay?  Sign me up!

That being said the whole tone of the podcast may be a bit much for a casual gamer.  These are two men who might be described as brilliant writers and they do not dumb down the material they're talking about.   Even without the sleep deprivation I had, I would probably want to go back and hear a section or two to make sure I comprehended their ideas.  

In that same vein, we are dealing with two very intelligent geeks whose opinions  are much more succinct and credible than the average raving fanboy, or laissez faire gamer like me.  Some people will be offended for no good reason, or completely lost.  

They also used the term Soviet Necromancy.  That right there earns a listen to the next episode, and a trip through the back listings. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hackmaster: The Journey of Mutumbo #12 The Forest Oracle

24 Hexdec 1132

After a week of hiding in an inn outside of town, the group finally put their heads together and compiled a plan.  Cecelia Darkspruce (half-elf sorority girl cleric of Sif), needed to check out her family's ancestral manor in the Agenmoor Forest.  This traditional land of the high elves was recently blighted  and many drow were caught cavorting through the woods.  There were rumors on the drow moving on, however, and a chance to see what was left and perhaps establish a base of operations for the group was way tempting.

Our Cast:
Mutumbo - Nubian Warrior
Kalin Sworin - Human Cleric of Akana
Dmitri - Gnome Cleric
Markoos - Wild Elf Cleric
The Drow with No Name - Drow Fighter with "fabulous" social skills.
and a female rogue with a major infatuation with Mutumbo.  Mutumbo got that a lot!

They set off to the east toward Agenmoor.  Not even a day passed when a trio of winged female warriors descended from the heavens and encountered the group!  Valkyries of Sif had arrive to take their devoted follower Cecelia with them.  Mentions of Ragnarok worried some of the other party members, but Cecelia pleaded with them to continue the mission and make sure the family estate was safe.  With a wave, the Valkyries picked her up and flew up towards the sun.

(GM Note:  While we were known to change the day of the week to accommodate each other, Cecelia's player, Nate, needed to take a night class to graduate college his free days didn't match the rest of the group.  Fear not, True Believers of Hack, her story is not quite done, but it is for the sake of this entry.)

Most of Eastern Crosedes was farmland, so the travel was quick and safe, with a good field of vision to detect predators or brigands.  Soon, though, as they entered a small valley the mid-summer crops began to look stunted and wilted, even the signs of animal life seemed to disappear. 

By late afternoon they had arrived at a small village in this valley.  The locals were exited to see them, and pleaded for their help.  It seemed that some version of the Drow Blight that affected the Agenmoor had reached this fertile valley called the Downs, and may have ruined all the crops.   Only the help of the Golden Druid, in exile along the far Agenmoor border might solve their problem.  Since it was only a minor diversion, the group agreed.

The group was a bit pushy with supplies, even though they offered double for what little animal grain the village had left and they moved on.  They're strange caravan did have a few tentative moments when a large red dragon appeared to be circling them, but it flew off and they pushed into a small mountain pass. 

The pass actually turned into a large tunnel.  They attempted, with limited success to maneuver the animals through the mountain cave.  Not only did the animals create a great deal of noise, but they also attracted a small tribe of orcs.   Every time they encountered a group of orcs, it only took a small show of force to make them retreat back into the side passages, but when they emerged out of the other end, they were ambushed by over 20 of them!

Vastly outnumbered, the group pushed forward, slaying the orcs blocking their immediate path, while taking significant damage from the rest.  Mutumbo was nearly struck down as a spear pierced his hip and nearly broke bone.   Through pluck and guile, the group distanced them from the ambush, and the orcs broke off pursuit.

A bit further, they encountered a raging river, and a three rope bridge as it's only crossing.  Realizing that the animals could not cross, they gave the injured Mutumbo the job of taking the animals downstream to find a safe place to ford across, while the rest whole cross at the bridge.  At worst, the main group could reach the druid faster and possibly meet up with Mutumbo as he found a crossing and work back upriver.

The Drow, Dmitri, and the rogue successfully crossed the bridge, only to be ambushed by dire wolves!  Kalin who was still on the bridge, fell into the river and Markoos (also on the bridge) dove in after him.  Both could not swim in the rapids (and horribly failed their rolls) and disappeared under the water.  The remaining trio were pushed back by the wolves and decided to take their chances on the river.  All succumbed to the power of the water.

Downriver, Mutumbo noticed the bodies of his fallen comrades floating in the river.  Despite the river calming down significantly, he decided to make no attempt to save them (Alignment infraction!  Lose a level) The others had the directions to the Golden Druid and the Darkspruce Estate, so it was time for Mutumbo to wander off with his menagerie of animals and find even more adventure....

Despite N2 being a horribly written module, I figured it was the perfect side trek before they arrived at the Darkspruce Family Estate and figured out a new direction for the group.  I did not anticipate a near-TPK, although the haste of getting to the Golden Druid and then the estate, blinded the group's logic of just following the river to a fordable area.

Herein ends the Tale of the Journey of Mutumbo, travelling across strange and distant lands to deliver a cursed artifact off the edge of the world.  The Nubian would continue his travels, but our focus moves across the continent of Talaishia to the Kingdom of Marakeikos, where although the King holds ultimate power, the Burning Trogs Rule.

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Apathy of New Releases (Sept '13)

Hello again, to another month of solicitations!  This month I detected another glut of miscellany product, and for every dice bag offered, there are two puzzles, pre-K board game, or licensed pair of socks.  If there is anything you are looking for like that, I advised jumping online and reading the Games listing in issue #163 of Game Trade Magazine. 
My must have list:
Back to the usual nothing

My money-is-no-object list
Thank God I word it like that, because the only item that makes the list this month is the Dystopian Legions Empire of the Sund Ke-Ho Ironclad, at a measly 102 bucks!  It is pretty sweet:

The Imaginary Store List
Thunderstone Advance: Numenera............... $59.99

Wings of Glory.............................................$15 per plane
Another game that if the store can promote it, it should do well, but $15 for a single plane is a bit too much for some to pay

Another wave of paints, sets, and related items.  Their pots are 18ml, which is significantly more than GW (12), a bit less than Foundry (20), and substantially less than Howard Hues (30) or a Hobby brand such as Americana (54).   Still a decent deal for $2.99 for paints, and $3.25 for washes.

Dust Tactics still looks like an interesting game, but like Dystopian Legions, it's the one or two models that win me over, not the entire line.  The new bunker guns look great for Victorian Sci-Fi or Gnomes, although $45 is a bit steep.

Hex dice tray                ....................  $20.00
WW2 dice tower          ....................  $20.00

Don't know if it's new designs or a basic restock or a price increase but there are a lot of dice listed.

Adventure Time Card Wars .......................... $20.00
Ender's Game Battle School Board Game ......$25.00
Assassin's Creed Board Game  ......................$50.00
Archer board game             ...........................  $40.00
The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug Board Game $40.00

Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG - Blacksands ..... $24.99
Hobbit Tales Card Game               ........................$29.99
Doctor Who: The Gamemasters Companion ..........$34.99
Rocket Age: Blood Red Mars Expansion ...............$29.99
World War Cthulhu: Europe Ablaze .......................$24.99

More Freeblades, probably from the Kickstarter.  Still trying to wrap my head around $7 individual minis, regardless of strength or power, and how a mounted fig is only $2 more.
Fantasy Flight
Winter Tales ......................................................... $49.95
A narrative storytelling and fairy tales adventure board game

Star Wars Rpg: Edge Of The Empire - Enter The Unknown  $29.95

Warhammer 40k: Apocalypse                       GAW 40-03-60...........................$74.25
Chaos Space Marine Khorne Lord Of Skulls GAW 43-20..............................$160.00
Imperial Guard Baneblade                             GAW 47-24..............................$140.00
Necron Tesseract Vault                                 GAW 49-19..............................$160.00
Imperial Targeting Templates                         GAW 40-48................................$25.00
Wall Of Martyrs Aquila Strongpoint              GAW 64-59..............................$115.00
Wall Of Martyrs Firestorm Redoubt              GAW 64-58................................$65.00
Wall Of MartyrsVengeance Weapon Battery GAW 64-57................................$50.00

Nice, inexpensive items.

Twelve Days                 .................. $15.00
From James Ernest

Green Ronin
Mutants and Masterminds Deluxe Heroes Sourcebook  ....................$39.95

Lost Shade
Inexpensive dice bags for once. satin/fur 4x6   2.99/3.49

Louis Porter Jr Designs
Pathfinder: Horrific Fears

The Ogre Army is solicited this month, and the figures look a bit... stiff.  Like each figure should have kung-fu grip stiff.  Still, if you want a full army with fewer figures, this one's for you!

Ogre Army... 19 total figures  for $74.99
Ogre Shoots    3 figures for 29.99 (I hope they're metal)
Ogre Warriors 6 figures for 29.99

Settlers Of Catan: Explorers And Pirates  5-6 Player Extension  $29.99

Offworld Designs
Another "accessory" item that rarely gets any love: the quality t-shirt Offworld is offering a Pathfinder t-shirt, as well as the Dork Tower "Your dice really do hate you."  No prices, but if they aren't in the concert tee category, it's worth it to stock a couple.

Bolt Action Armies of Italy and the Axis......................................$24.95

Paizo Publishing
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Wrath Of The Righteous Part 4 - The Midnight Isles $22.99
Pathfinder Campaign Cards: Chase Cards 2 - Hot Pursuit!                                 $10.99
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Npc Codex                                           $19.99
Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 3 Box                                                                       $39.99
Pathfinder Flip Mat: Wasteland                                                                          $10.99
Pathfinder Player Companion:  Magical Marketplace                                          $12.99
Pathfinder Module:  Tears At Bitter Manor                                                         $24.99

Robotech RPG Tactics
Another groovy game that had nice buzz at GenCon.  I would love to see Palladium pull this one off.   $90.00 core set   $30.00 for each other set to expand our forces.

Pelgrane Press
Trail of Cthulhu - Eternal Lies        ..........................   $39.95

Steve Jackson Games
Chupacabra: Survive the Night Dice Game               $19.95
Munchkin Apocalypse: Mars Attacks Booster Pack   $5.95
Munchkin Pathfinder: Gobsmacked Booster Pack      $5.95
Zombie Dice: Deluxe Game                                      $24.95

Stronghold Games
Space Sheep  $49.95
This company has a good number of run-of -the-mill, possibly overpriced, board games, but I'm a sucker for a good sheep game.  We all have our weaknesses.

Warlord Games
Another slew of new product for all their lines, including some sweet looking WW2 Tanks in 25mm.  The problem is the dreaded "PI" (Please Inquire) for all their prices.  More work for the customer, and a smaller profit margin for the retailer (PI is a set discount from the distributor, many times significantly less than the normal discount, which is usually determined by sales volume.)

Wizards of the Coast
Dungeons & Dragons: Lords Of Waterdeep Board Game - Scoundrels Of Skullport Expansion $39.95
Dungeons & Dragons: Murder In Baldur’s Gate        $34.95

I'm getting that dying days of TSR/2nd Edition vibe again with these products, and D&DNext won't be for another year?  Not good...

As usual, just the listing...
Dc Heroclix: Superman Quick-start Kit  2-pack
Mage Knight Board Game: Krang Character Expansion
Marvel Heroclix: The Invincible Iron Man
Marvel Heroclix: Thor - The Dark World Movie Expansion
Pathfinder Battles Builder Series: Undead Horde
Pathfinder Battles: Legends Of Golarion Standard Booster Brick (8)
Star Trek Attack Wing: Expansion Packs
Star Trek Heroclix Tactics: Series III

Z-Man Games
Another wide range of products that vary between pretty decent and poor.  My biggest gripe is the re-release of Ricochet Robots.  It was the one game that was on the shelf at Griffon Games when I got hired long ago, and it was still there when we closed the doors... after an 80% off sale.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Day of Sloth '14

There are some major high holidays with the gamers of the Society of Neffs: Super Bowl Sunday, the Saturday After Thanksgiving Leftover Feast.  Two of the lesser holidays are the bro-grimage to Cold Wars every March and the Day of Sloth picnic, hosted at my house.

Usually we host a picnic the Sunday before Labor Day, to give the drunken revellers a day of recovery.  This year, we have a wedding receptions barbeque and a concert filling up next weekend, so we moved it to this past weekend.  With  the change in schedule my side of the picnic was a bit underrepresented.  While hordes of children swarmed the front yard and devoured dinosaur shaped breaded chicken(?),  we had a small table in our normal spot, Scott and his girlfriend Bridgit, as well as the infamous Carsons, Phil and Jess.  Phil and Jess narrated the good, bad, and awesome from their GenCon trip, and we got a game of Apples to Apples.  I did try to get in the annual game of Risus: Illuminati University, but with Scott leaving early and the mosquitos coming back right on time, we closed up shop early.  

The only other good news was that the Cthulhu group is looking into another back-to-back gaming weekends in September.   Still not sure if we're closing up some storylines first, or if we're just going into "1925" with guns blazing.  I have two, possibly three new characters that I have to acclimate into the group (Phil's, whose concept has been approved with maniacal laughter from this Keeper, Aaron, who's killed off characters in the last back-to-back session, and "Dynomative Dalcin/Molotov Mike.")

Friday, August 23, 2013

My GenCon Rant

As I keep mentioning in my posts, GenCon, the gaming convention so ultimate it was once housed in the MECCA, was held in Indianapolis this past weekend.  I did have a few friends go out to attend, but despite a few pleasing posts on Facebook, I haven't gotten even a broad overview of their activities.

I've been scouring a few select sites looking for pics of any wargames, and it's a bit sad. Outside some pics from Miniatures Building Authority and Alien Dungeon, the quality of the photos, as well as the quality of the games look like filler at a local con.  And, of course, the problem is I've already seen most of the All's Quiet on the Martian Front terrain, and I've played more hours on the MBA tables than you could have if you played every available session on those tables at GenCon.

Actually I think the problem is me.

I have never been the target demographic for GenCon.

First off, I barely have a desire to be in the company of 20,000+ people at a professional sporting even or concert for a few hours, much less, four days with nearly 50K worth of geeks.  My last "big con" days were Origins before their permanent home in Columbus was established.  Four to six thousand people is more than enough.  I got to do what I wanted, the vendor hall still had some mystery to it, plus I had a few moments respite between "bouts of the unexpected."

While I know dozens of people who were regular attendees at Indy and Milwaukee, I take the opinion of my friend Wooly to heart the most.  He attended one of the GenCons in the mid-90s under the wing of Global Games' Strykeforce Global.  While it was during the great debacles known as Inferno, the X Game, Abyss, and the ill-timed Stars Wars Minis sub-licensing, the Legion of Steel guys just ran their games to capacity tables and had fun.  Wooly's reaction to the rest of the con?  It was just too big (and it was a sub 20K crowd that year).  Although he had time to go do other things, the sheer size brought on a malaise to stay where he was and not venture out.  Sure, his gaming knowlege and experience wasn't as broad as mine has shrunk to currently, but I've read enough post con blogs this week to see a pattern:

Show up, play in one new game demo, play in some established game with people you know, stalk the vendor hall to see if you can snag some quality swag from "Heroes of Xyz The RPG Collectible Mini Boardgame,"  or pick up your Kickstarter.  Buy some new game that in a couple of months you'll wished you had picked up cheap on Amazon.  Meet a quasi-famous person and either be underwhelmed or worship them as the new Messiah.  Attend a seminar then complain about the in house food options, because it's not like there's thousands of mouths and bodies that could interrupt your dining pleasure.

I mean, the one fellow, who was there Friday and Saturday, played in an "amazing" 15 or 25mm Age of Sail game that looked equal to the great Gnome Naval battle at Cold Wars '11, and while impressive, this game had the "felt" look, with unpainted terrain.  Great for a club game, or a local con, but dude, you're at GenCon...  I just didn't feel it.

He and his sun then tried out demos of Leviathan and Freeblades, snagged a few minor goodies because the good stuff runs out by 10am and then they ooohed and aaahed over some WW2 board with half painted buildings.  If your table's figs, terrain, and cloth are such identical shades of white that the Klu Klux Klan wants to sponsor your game, you need to learned shading, and even dry brushing white.

And that's it... He and his son paid, what, sixty bucks apiece to play in a decent naval game that was suited for a regional con, two demos (He did pick up some Freeblades), some minor items he could have waited to pick up at the FLGS and spent the rest of the weekend soaking up geek ambiance and food truck grease. Granted, there are a lot more expensive ways to spend a weekend with your kids, but when you have Star Frontiers games using the Marauder 2100 rules, Live Dungeons, and a disco party, if you're going to go to Rome, grabbing a toga is fine, but don't visit the Colosseum and the other tourist traps, find something really new and different.

And don't even get me started on Cosplayers.  I have a whole separate post on them covered in a "Hostile Nerd  Syndrome" post I'm working on.

Now I'm not all doom and gloom, people do have fun doing the things they love.  Phil over at Adventurous Endeavors had a blast in the Cthulhu Masters Tournament, and his wife at Skewed Shadows got to attend a rockin' writer's seminar. I eagerly anticipate their reports on the con, and not just at the early Labor Day picnic this weekend.

Here's the thing.  I feel I sowed my con wild oats early and often.  Convention L'Outrance, if you will.  I probably will never make it to GenCon or Essen, but if you do, for Christ's sake and the other Cosplayers, do something completely flipping awesome.  You can play in a 32 player Magic tourney or a six player Catan game, or a generic dungeon crawl anywhere.  Go big or stay home.

And nothing beats a drive home from Columbus with Phil in the car...  

None of the people in this picture are wearing pants, but you wouldn't know unless I mentioned it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Twenty Questions About My Campaign - Cthulhu Edition

As I finished up the questions about the 20 questions about my old D&D/Hackmaster campaign, I figure I would do a variant of it for my Call of Cthulhu game.  I started running Cthulhu because it was getting too hard to run a fantasy campaign once a month (at best), with a rotating casts of 3-5 players.  Twenty sessions done over the last 6 years or so, with a rotating cast of over 12, has been great, and for some Doc Millheim and Brian Nichols, the longest running active characters that they've ever had (in real time). 

All scenario numbers correspond with my Call of Cthulhu Campaign Log.
What is the deal with all these different cultists?
Although there are some themes running through the campaign, sometimes we just never get back to some topics.  

In twenty some odd sessions, we've dealt with The (Catholic) Church of Contemplation, two separate Cthugha cults (Georgia, USA and Crete), some dark god being worshipped in Pa and NY during the Revolutionary War, an unknown cult in Brooklyn, another more powerful unknown cult in Queens, and a bunch of wack-a-doos running amok in New York City.  Do they actually need to deal with Mythos creatures?

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
We are in the greatest city in the world (NYC), so obtaining anything is pretty easy.  As the Mythos knowledge and paranoia starts to kick in, the investigators have developed a penchant for Tommy Guns, Elephant guns, and luggage with hidden compartments.  I guarantee you, this isn't helping them sleep easier at night. In fact, they've already begun the hard road of realization that these weapons are more a burden than a blessing.

Where can we go to get the weird stuff I need for this ritual I found in the book?
They haven't gone completely into "book-learnin'" mode quite yet, but one investigator did find a nice little African curio shoppe in Harlem and picked up a large ceremonial knife that works quite well in summoning a creature from beyond.  Of course, he blew off part of his hand from a weapons malfunction while being accosted by two bums in the nearby alleyway, so perhaps it wasn't worth it.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
They've felled head cultists/Grand Wizards of the KKK with a single shot from a long-range rifle, so as long as they're mortal humans, the group has little fear.  There is a certain trepidation, though, when dealing with New York philanthropist Ambrose Mogens, whom the group has deemed "The 300-Year-Old Witch of New York"  Unimaginable wealth and an apparently immortal soul is not something the group really wants to deal with, especially since they have only the slightest inklings as to his motive and his dark designs with the Mythos.  (Note: All this will be covered in the next episode #19: The Half-Moon.  Release: TBD).

Who is the biggest badass of them all?
Define badass?  In Episode #20, Francis Dresden tries to be a badass, but only turns into a hero, while Mr Piccolo, the Canadian Syrup Salesman, tried the same and turned into Shoggoth food (allegedly).    Most NPC badasses also tend to be short-lived, so I present the three nominees for three different reasons:
  1. Steven O'Hara - Professors of Physics usually don't get into this category, but he has been largely unfazed by all he has encountered, including possibly getting fired at work, and a possible divorce from his pregnant wife.  Let's see: When the rest of the group got captured by cultists/KKK in Georgia (Episode 4-6), he was the only one to escape back North, assemble a rescue party and get everyone back home.  He also was the man who blew off the the head of the Grand Wizard with a single shot... in the middle of the ceremony, right in the middle of his "James Bond" speech.   He's also encountered the Mythos infused research in the physical sciences and not only understood it, but could improve upon it!  Best yet, through it all, he's carried himself in a cool controlled manner more akin to a slow motion walk in Reservoir Dogs than a CoC game.  Outside of his recent issues, which, c'mon, is called the Columbia Turkish Prostitution scandal, that has a badass ring to it, he has actually INCREASED his sanity!
  2. Angela O'Hara - Steven's wife with the remnants of a Pennsylvania Coal fortune.  She's been called in for nagging wife/NPC back up early on, and with a phenomenal shotgun, has blown away walking dead, cultists, and sheriff's deputies with impunity.
  3. Jessica Carson, Private Eye.  While her secret past hasn't come to light, and she's performed admirably since the death of her husband and being thrust into the celebrity limelight, it was episode #10, when the possessed cook attempted to kill the psychic medium trying to exorcise the spirit away, when Jessica calmly pulled off her scarves, walked behind the cook, and choked her the fuck out.  While I create the bulk of the avatar PC concept, I didn't expect her to put a bulk of her free points into Garrote.
What's the biggest monster to be faced?
The Ancient Byakhee (#14-16) and the the Minotaur of Knossos (#20) are the closest things to epic level conflicts.  I don't think they want to encounter anything bigger unless they absolutely need to.

Who is the richest person in the land?
The above-mentioned Ambrose Mogens, although Jessica and Brian know Mr Robert Carrington, a millionaire industrialist with an itching for knowledge of the supernatural.
Where is safe?While the spa Doc Millheim's been staying at is safe, with the group pissing off the 300-year-old Witch of New York, the only safe place left (for know) is the Belvidere Club, an organization of eccentric writers, tinkerers, and adventurers.  Doc Millheim prestige as a successful writer and helped bring the others into the fold.

Is there a magic guild that I can join in order to get more spells?
The group is still putting around with spells, but they do know that they are organizations to have "played" with the Mythos for if not good, then neutral reasons (#2).  They've also learned that the government is aware of some of the Mythos threats, and has dealt with them as early as the 1770's (#3)
Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Dr. Bob Wintermute, Professor of History at Miskatonic University, has actively sought the consul of Henry Armitage and Harry Houdini, with mixed results.  The Belividere Club has three crackpots for every legitimate researcher, and it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.  They are still in contact with Paul LeMond, physic medium, from his home in Buffalo, but most of the time it's recordings of his odd dreams that hopefully do NOT foretell the future.  Besides that, they have Robert Carrington's money and industrial research capabilities, noted author Jackson Elias, Rudolph Pearson, Professor of Medieval Literature at Columbia, Eric Bowsfield, Professor of History at Miskatonic, and anthropologist Maurice Petty.
Where can I hire mercenaries?
Wasn't Smitty a mercenary, per se (#3, 18)?  We did run "Red" as a mercenary PC (#6), and I bet with a little luck and a lot of money you could hire the mob (#7, #17)

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
So far the group has understood that in remote places, the long arm of the law is more like a midget trying to dunk a basketball.  And don't piss off the Indians, living or dead.

Which way to the nearest tavern?
See the Belvidere Club, under "Where is safe?"  Their Manhattan Juleps are suddenly all the rage.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
Better worded as "What have the investigators NOT resolved?"
  • The creature in the basement of "The Haunting."  It did kill Adam Mosher, and then disappeared. (#1)
  • Did Professor Merriweather's group die of natural causes at early ages, or were they hunted down? (#2)
  • Why was General Sullivan really sent up into New York after the Wyoming Massacre (#3)
  • There is still a Negro with a magic trumpet, and the mysterious man who gave it to him.  (#7)
  • Where did Dr Ephraim Harris run off to?  Is he still angry that Steven destroyed his dimensional portal? (#8)
  • Did the Great Raspini get vaporized in the same explosion that killed Jessica Carson's husband? (#11)
  • Was the mysterious "IHME" cult a harmless gathering, or something more sinister? (#12)
  • Was Pennywell an isolated incident with a group of rogue soldiers, or were they following orders from much higher up? (#14-16)
  • Is the Yithian threat part of Paul's odd dreams (#17)
  • I'm not even going into the whole "300-year-old Witch of New York" thing again. 
Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
While there are plenty of wars fought around the globe, the Prohibition era mob wars are just starting to heat up.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
More like speakeasies and wild clubs to tout your glory and spend your cash?
Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
I think I covered those earlier in a pretty thorough manner.

What is there to eat around here?
It's New York City in the 20's.  What can't you find?  Although the investigator go up to Sheila's in Harlem for fried chicken.

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
  • Did the Warlock have a second tower in Newtown, New York during the 18th Century (#3)
  • Did the Wideawakes have any other items from "the future?"  Did the Boston police acquire them, or are they squirrelled away at a different location? (#4)
  • Previously mentioned trumpet that makes the dead rise? (#7)
  • Can one rebuild, nay, improve on Dr Harris? Trans-dimensional portal? (#8)
  • Just what is going on inside the Mogens Institute for Advanced Human Studies (#19)
Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
It's Cthulhu.  You can't enjoy your Type H treasure after you lose 60 SAN in one swipe.

Monday, August 19, 2013

If I Had a Billion Dollars (If I Had a Billion Dollars...)

... I would buy you a monkey
(Haven't you always wanted a monkey?)

It was GenCon weekend, where the dreams and fortunes and dozens depend on the success of a single show, hundreds of the best players in their hometowns realize that they're only average, and we rekindle the cosplay, geek girl, or just plain booth babe debate for the first time since Comic-Con.

...And for the record, the latter issue is just a gender-related extension of "Hostile Nerd Syndrome".  I'll address that at a later time. 

One thing that I've found interesting is the lack of any news/updates from the friends I have attending.  No embedded reporters for me at this con, they're too busy with Munchkin tourneys, Cthulhu Masters, and writer's symposiums... a million other things.  I hope this means they're all having a good time.

But back to today.  Today.... is for dreaming...

So, I've won a billion dollars (post taxes, if I want to be greedy I'm going as close to Scrooge McDuck style as I can).  How would that change my gaming lifestyle?

For starters, it would allow me to relocate a few people back into the fold.  While I couldn't specify WHERE this relocation would be, it would be great to get a few people closer to schedule regular gaming, you know, outside of those random flights to Switzerland to ski the Alps.   It's also a great opportunity to burn a few million to help set up some companies that my friends might have been dreaming of.  I do have a LOT of friends in the programming/software/IT spectrum.  Don't know if they can work together longer than 4 hours every Wednesday night, but I'm willing to try it out.  

I would start buying product lines and companies!  D&D?  Not since the late 90's.  Wizards?  Not since they produced their own RPGs. 

Here's the list:
  • Chaosium - With the success of their Kickstarters, this might not be priority number one (and it wouldn't be to stop 7th Edition, althought I might reconfigure the next print run to a 7.1 combined book).   For the last two decades, they have simply needed additional cash flow and two more editors.  This might allow for a few more out of print books to come back to life as a reprint, or a completely new book (Kingsport?).
  • Steve Jackson - secretly finance a new edition/printing of Toon BEFORE they announce the Kickstarter.
  • Topps - I believe Topps stills own the rights to Battletech, and every form of them shall be in my possession (I'll even take take clickies and the CCG if it makes things go smoother.) All licenses stay the same. 
  • Legions of Steel - This is a god-awful mess, and a little cash could easily grease the wheels.  Plus I'd like to play a game of giant LoS Mecha combat, with multiple big-bad vehicles and UNE Superfortresses on the table.  Hell, if I get bored I could rewrite the rules and recommission the sculpts for Abyss and actually make it cool.
  • Burning Plastic - Yeah, I already have this, per se, but I could finish the 2nd Edition, print off 10,000 copies and distribute them to the masses.  Perhaps I could find out if I could buy the rights to the classic moulds and release a box set, just like the ones you could get out of the back of a comic book, in days gone by, only this time the figures are normal size.  In addition to that I could throw a pile of money at the true genius behind the game, just to avoid lawsuits.  I'd do the same for his Agitator: the RPG concent
  • Pig Wars - I heard this is out of print, I could simply pay for a print run.
  • Gnome Wars - There are other things I would do regarding Brigade Games that I'm not at liberty to discuss, but I would simply pay for more metal and supplies to be able to hang individual gnomes on a rack display, a five figure box, and an army box.  Plus I'll have time to edit Gnome Wars 2.1.
  • TWERPS - A leather bound TWERPS Compendium, even if it's a unique copy.  Same with Risus.  Both for the sheer irony of it.
I would go crazy with my gaming purchases:
  • Call of Cthulhu - despite my multi-million dollar investment, I would simply go to the Chaosium website and order close to one of everything.  All the small press items they don't stock, or are out of stock I'll get directly through those companies. Cthulhu has been very very good to me these last couple of years.  They should get rewarded.
  • Miniature Building Authority - not one of everything (some things I'll need more than one!), but a nice Middle Eastern set, a European two set, a Spanish building set, and some Africian/polynesian grass huts shouldn't fill up an entire room of my new house (unless I drain the indoor swimming pool and they're all set up in there.
  • Hackmaster - the 5th Edition GM Guide and Hacklopedia of Beasts.  Those will look good on my mahoghany barrister bookcase shelves.
  • Gnomish Space Marines -  I will blow up the already overpriced eBay market on Squats to assemble my army, using some Hasslefree figures for power armor.  Lots of camo, hunter orange, plus some Nascar insignia for the power armor, not because I like that, but because I can!
  • All the King's Men:  My 54mm Revolutionary War armies shall be built, and the Wyoming Massacre shall be done in such an epic scale.
  • Eureka/Reaper - A mice warrior/mousling army needs to be built, for fantasy and Gnome Wars, perhaps even my own version of Awful Cheese Hulk with the sci-fi figures.
  • Just Eureka - All the Frogs/Turtles/Toy Soliders/Teddy Bears one could stand, plus some modern Afghans and African figures.
  • Brigade Games - complete figure lines to run my Tanga Campaign "accurately".
  • Formula De - all the boards... and somehow run them together like a bad Cannonball Run.
  • Magic - I have played in years, but I would assemble my beloved Treefolk deck to its former glory.  I may even buy mutliple Black Lotuses just to get them out of circulation. 
Write my books
  • I could write the ultimate book on the Samoan Civil Wars, and write up orders of battle for wargaming purpose.  I would enjoy those research trips to Samoa and New Zealand.
  • Burning Plastic, 2nd Edition
  • Gnome Wars 2.1 (I've already volunteered to be editor, at least a proofreader.)
  • The Encyclopedia of the Gnome World - a long term project for Gnome Wars covering the history of the Gnomes at War, from the mythical era until the Spanish Rice Uncivil War.  I'll do my best to incorporate all non-Brigade product lines that are appropriate (such as using Eureka Teddy Bears as African Askaris, frogs as savages, etc.)
And of course, if I feel like recreating Brewster's Millions and need a money pit to legally waste money, I could open a comic/gaming store.  Whether it's the Pegleg Gnome, or Viking Comics and Games, or I just buy whatever exists legally of Dreamscape Comics and build a new empire of geekdom with it, this could keep me out of worse trouble.  Plus it would help employ those don't qualify under the computer/internet start-up idea. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Eureka's New Teddy Bears and Toy Soldiers

GenCon is here!  Thousands of sweaty gamers pouring into Indianapolis to chuck dice, eat Cheetos, and, if the gods are mericful, perform at least routine personal.  A shout out to Jesse, who already survived a game against the current and a former Munchkin World Champion.  And good luck to Phil, who got a slot in the Cthulhu Masters tournament.  Avoid dynamite at all costs!!!

While everyone else is looking towards Indiana for gaming news, the most exciting news for me came from Australia, specifically Eureka Miniatures' newsletter (Thanks to Mike Lung for forwarding it to me!).

New products for the Roman Teddy Bear/Toytown War I know everyone is itching to fight (all are 25mm):

The Roman Teddy Bear Chariot, All hail, Ben Fur!

$15.55 US  - $17.00AU
Mike Broadbent has also sculpted firing poses for the Toytown Toy Soldiers

The Toy Soldiers with helmet are also available with a firing pose.  Figures are $2.70US/$2.95AU each.

Also a shout out to Grimsby Wargaming for a nice AAR for Sheffield Triples in the UK.  I've stolen their pics of a game using the Eureka ToyTown figs played with Hordes of the Things for rules.

Love the Steer From The Cute, the Bad, and the Cuddly
Teddy Bear Romans
Toy Town Soldiers

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pegasus Small Palm Trees "A"

Took me long enough.

After a long hiatus with the paintbrush, and much gnashing of teeth and crying to get the kids to sleep a wee bit earlier, my first project in a giant backlog is finally finished.

I present Pegasus Hobbies  Palm Tree set, style "A".
Using the technique detailed here, it was relatively painless, save the giant glob of yellow paint that I just notice on the far right tree trunk. *grrrr*  We can tell what tree I started drybrushing with, eh? 

I still need to buy a hot glue gun, and I used the cheap clay because I couldn't find the specific brand mentioned in the article, but everything worked out.

I will need to finish the detail on the tricorner hats for the Gnome British.  The white just pops on the picture.

The Palm Trees are $8.99 for a box of 5 and stand between 4-5" high.   If your local store doesn't stock it, or won't order them, check out for all the Pegasus products.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Twenty Questions About My Campaign - World of Georic Edition

This time last year I completed Twenty Questions About Wargaming. Not much has changed on that over a year, so I began to look into new gaming questions. What I found was a great post by JRients. It's a great educational post that covers some of the basic questions that a player/character can bring up at the start of a campaign. For poop and laughs, I decided to go way back to my homebrew World of Georic, run from 1990-2008.

Everything is based on the world of Georic, continent of Talashia, Kingdom of Crosedes, Barony of Athelstane, Village of Dechie, the Year 1142

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?If you're the most common cleric across the continent, you worship Akana, God of Light and Order. A few offshoot cults have given your god a bad name. Most of the faithful are helping the poor (as well as maintaining a huge bureaucracy and keeping allied kings on the throne).
Of course, Dechie does have a large minority population that worships the Guya, goddess of nature, as well as Challon, God of Piegons. There are a considerable number of pigeons in Dechie, many different breeds, and some are raised for food.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?There is a trading post in the village. Been through a lot of owners who didn't have much business savvy. Wouldn't be surprised if the Touchberry clan is in charge of it now. Torm was a half-elf who stayed in town during the race wars around 1060, and his actions and demeanor help change human perceptions about elvinkind. He probably retired as either Captain of the militia, or a special part of the Baronial Guard. There's a good chance he's probably bought the trading post at least twice, then sold it to pay of debts, until he saved up enough to buy it from the next guy who failed.

3.Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?Good freakin' luck with that! Some of the metal workers in the capital of Hydincall might be qualified, but it would probably require a trip to the older civilizations: The Dwarves of Skyforge, the desert kingdoms of Khemmet, or perhaps one of the aged masters hiding in the forests of Ras- Prythax. Expect to pay double "book" value.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?Despite the claims of the wizards of Emron, the mightiest "active" wizard of Kannex, the dreaded Red Mage of Anon-Maxis. His magic is completely different than traditional wizardly, but does not obey the rules of sorcery either. The mere threat of his involvement has sent armies retreating, and he has stopped wars just by demanding the two sides negotiate.. There may be higher level wizards, if they could be compared to Kannex's unorthodox style, but none are so overt in their influence upon the world.
Dechie has never had more than a local hedge mage in it's surroundings, despite the name of the local inn, The Blue Wizard. Of course, there is the local story of when the Red Mage of Anon-Maxis came to town, but most believe that to be the stuff of legend.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?Despite baronial knights, and adventurers using the village as a home base, Torm Touchberry (12th level thief), is regarded as the greatest warrior. He has survived too many wars, trained too many men in the militia, and is rumored to have fought alongside the Red Mage on that fateful day when the Baronial wedding was interrupted. Part of the legend says that whatever tried to stop the wedding was defeated, but not entirely vanquished , and hides in the Nightwood Forest across the Pathfinder River from town.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?Baron Zogby D'Echellon, despite only being 22, controls a large swath of land that has been in his family since before the D'Echellon's were given the land in 1064.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?The Churches of Akana, Guya, and Challon all offer magical healing for a sizable donation.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?The three churches above cover most of those. The trading town of Omsjik may be able to handle lycanthropy and polymorph, althought the Magic Unversity in Hydicnall, my be able needed for significant cases. Only the Church of Akana has a high enough level cleric to ressurect, and Challon does not deal well with undead.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?The Magic University in Hydincall is the closest thing to a magic guild. Other nations do have elaborate guild systems, but are ridiculously hard to get into.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?There may be an alchemist in Omsjik, but there is a notable collection of sages and experts on the natural world in secluded estates in and around Dechie. Most charge exorbitant fees, probably because they value their privacy more.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?Well trained mercenaries are hard to come by in Dechie, although you can hire a number of conscript-level swordsmen cheap. Mercenary companies operate within the capital, some also partaking in the legal gladiator fighting.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?Outside of the peace-bounding of weapons, and some racial prejudice for elves due to a number of slights from hundreds of years past, Crosedes is not to restrictive. Other countries are a bit more oppressive.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?The Blue Wizard Inn. Established 915. Rebuilt after fire 1062.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?Rumors of a goblin city within the Nightwood Forest would justify the small raids on the village that are usually repulsed by the well-trained militia. Troglodytes in the swamps to the east.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?Unless you wish to find the goblin city and instigate a fight, Dechie is free from full fledged war. Within the Kingdom, the Gran Duchy of Sworin is always attempting to escape from the clutches of the crown, and hires it's swords well for what could be described as suicide missions.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?The arena in Hydincall is the largest, and most famous gladiator arena in the world. Their Grand World Tournament is a week-long affair that bring the finest fighters in all the land to Crosdes, but also offers common folk a chance at fame. Be warned, the crowds in the arena are just as dangerous as the competition you'll be fighting.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?The cult of Baraxus is mentioned in whispers. No one knows what they do. The armies of the Dread Lord will terrorize smaller communities at random, sometimes killing dozens for no reason, sometimes just stealing a keg of ale. And of course, the Order of Apotheosis, a discredited branch of Akana, as always looking for new converts for their cause.

18. What is there to eat around here?Dechie hosts traditional European farming and hunting. Better to spend a few silvers and be amazed at the food than hunt and prepare it yourself.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?The Temple of Alasku was where adherents of Yotia, God of Magic, worshipped. It's rumored to be full of ancient artifacts for both clerics and magic-users.
Legends have a remote kingdom at the headwaters of the Pathfinder River, somewhere in the midst of the Skyforge Mountains, but away from the greedy hands of the Dwarves. Rumors say that the palace is host to a ruby the size of an ogre's fist.

20. Where is the closest dragon or other gigantic monster for Type H Treasure?The last confirmed sighting of a dragon was the slaying of a young red dragon outside of Lansluck, roughly 80 years ago. Children's stories still mention a large black dragon, living in the center of the Nightwood.

Friday, August 9, 2013

NYC CoC #18: Stag Party Gone Awry!

May, 1924

We take a moment today to reflect on something other than personal degredation or cosmic.  Every once in awhile, there is an ounce of joy pervading the veil of humanity.

For Eric Bowsfield, PhD, Professor of History at Miskatonic University, it was the upcoming nuptuals with his beloved Katie. 

For Henry "Hank" Hart,  General Manager of Phone Rentals for Massachussetts Bell, it was a time to provide his good friend Eric with a raucous week of manliness out in the Maine woods.  An elaborate cabin, with fully stocked larder, a rack of shotguns for hunting or target practice, and a beautiful lake for recreation.   He would invite a few of Eric's other friends from across the years:

Dr Daniel Kobza, DDS - A dentist, formerly of Boston, who left town for Philadelphia a few years back under some questionable accusations.

David Lievense - Transcontinental antiquitarian who loved collecting antique advances in technology. 

...and two more individuals of questionable reputation:

Dr Nathaniel Millheim - a friend and classmate of Eric's at the East Stroudsburg Normal School.  Some call him a crackpot parapsychologist, today many are calling him a successful author of both fiction and folklore.

Steven O'Hara - another classmate from East Stroudsburg.  A friend of Nathaniel and a professor of physics at Columbia.

The group arrived at different times in Bangor, Maine.  Once there, they would begin the festivities, then load themselves into two rented Model Ts for the two hour drive into the Maine woods. 

After a questionable steak dinner and pocket flasks running low, they loaded up the cars and congregated outside them before heading out.

With the squeal of tires, a truck could be seen barely making it around a corner and headed straight for the group.  Dr. Kobza and Hank narrowly dove out of the way of the truck before it hit a sizable street lamp.

With steam and fluids pouring out of the engine block, a husky fellow emerged from the cab with just the slightest hint of a drunken stagger.

Smitty, former speakeasy owner and friend of Millheim and O'Hara, had arrived. 

Realizing that alcohol was not mentioned at all, Steven enlisted his friend Smitty to procure some for the week.  Figuring no one would miss a few cases of the booze he was guarding for the Boston mob, and realizing that Eric had helped save his life before, he felt obliged to deliver it personally.  A few moments later, Smitty and the booze were in the cars and the group sped away, before the police showed up.

The group's late start and the poor back roads of Maine ensured that the two car convoy drove right through the primeval darkness of the forests of the darkness of Maine.  Dr Kobza acquainted Smitty with the wonders of ether and the rest tore into the hard liquor.  Just a little over two hours in, and no sight of the landmarks to denote their cabin, the morale of the group dipped to the point of staring blankly into the small oval of light the cars' headlights were burning into the upcoming darkness. 

While everyone was in this zombie-like state, a single man, wearing only a blood soaked nightshirt, bolted across the trail from the darkness.  Steven, driving the first car, could do nothing but watch in horror as his attempts to steer away were countered by the deep ruts in the road.  The man's chest hit the radiator of the car with a resounding thud.  He managed to hang on for a few seconds before falling under the car with a grinding noise.  Free of the mysterious stranger, the Model T finally popped out of the rut right at the most inopportune moment, and the car hurtled off the road, down an embankment, and struck a tree. 

For David, driving the second car, the sight of a body emerging from underneath the lead car forced him to panic, running him over in the process, and forcing the Model T to flip repeatedly until striking the lead car already resting at the tree. 

Although everyone survived the crash, most were shaken by the strange man lying in the middle of the road.   By some great miracle, he was still alive, but could barely emit the words  "help" and "jack."  Hank attempted to give him liquor to soothe the wounds.  When he wouldn't respond to any questions, except for those words, they decided he was French Canadian and Eric tried speaking to him in French to no avail.  It was finally up to David to build a litter and figure out where they could take this poor soul.

Steven and Doc Millheim looked over the wreckage that was their small convoy, busted radiators, broken spokes or flat tires made the cars undriveable without repairs.  The ditch they resided in the the darkness of the night prevented that from getting started.    However they did spy a small light coming from a house on the hill, with a twisty driveway leading up.  Hoping that  was where came from, the group embarked up the hill.
The house on the hill was a nice sized cabin, situated in a small clearing.  A Model T with 4 flat tires and a missing crank sat outside the wide open front door.  While the rest of the group tried to get the man into the cabin and onto a bed, Smitty and Dave tried unsuccessfully to follow some tracks that started at the car and wandered into the woods. 

Following every instinct in seasoned investigator's minds, Doc Millheim spent as much time as possible before going inside, staring at the woods, the car, and the structure, looking for anything to hint at the cause of the man's episode.  Eventually as the group ventured from the bedroom they placed the man in to other rooms of the cabin, he forced himself inside. 

The building was a proper hunting cabin, with trophies along the wall, a sizeable
Doc Millheim scoured the bookshelves in the living room, discovering a copy Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New England Canaan, sitting alongside Civil War histories and cheap dime novels, as well an an odd "bone" flute sitting atop the mantle of the firepalce.  Hank and David discovered a trap door in the kitchen that might lead to a cellar.  Those achievements were overshadowed by Steven casually asking, "Fellas? Does anyone else see an Indian standing outside?"

Much to Steven's chagrin, not another person in the cabin could see the solitary Indian peering into the window.  Doc Millheim and David went so far as to go outside and look for it, the doctor waving his hand right through his chest, according to Steven.

David did notice something far more sinister.  The pine trees surrounding the cabin felt like they had closed in, but far more dire was the open areas between the trees had filled in with a six foot high wall of thorny brambles, essentially blocking any route of escape.
With a bit more fear in their hearts, the group checked on the man (still alive) and went about their searches.  Hank and David volunteered to go down the steps in the trap door.  At the bottom of the steps was a woman's body.  Although the average person could deduce he had died of a broken neck, Dr. Kobza dental experience, and Hank's suffering sanity made them concoct crazy stories as to her demise.  They also found a mysterious pool coagulating blood, some very peculiar stones in the foundation, and bones sticking out of the dirt floor!

Their discoveries were to kept secret a bit longer, as a horrible commotion came from the pantry.  Eric and David were rummaging around there, checking the larder, and a back entrance.  Little seemed out of the ordinary from their foraging for food, save two jackrabbits that had been shot and were hanging on hooks to drain.  Both men saw the skinned rabbits begin to dance while hanging on the hooks and at least Eric's sanity began to crumble.  He had grabbed a fire poker from the living room "just in case" and when the creature began to dance, he used it to beat it away.  Unfortunately he couldn't hit the broadside of a cabin, and ultimately, the rabbit became unhooked and he flew out of the pantry with it dancing on his chest.  In a fit, he threw it away, tossing it into the living and smacking Smitty in the face.  The rabbit went limp and the everyone went back to searching, most notably the new finds in the basement.

Seeing oddly carved stones in the basement, pools of blood, and a skeleton missing it's skull half-buried, Steven and Doc Millheim decided the time for dawdling about was over and clues must be found, before someone really gets hurt.  They tried to read the Thaumaturgical Prodigies, but one of the deer heads on the wall came to life and ate the good doctor's hat!  They then went up to the attic to look around, while some of the level headed men remaining checked another bedroom and the bathroom and the main floor.  David was given the .30-06 and told to guard the outside of the cabin.

The men did discover the body of a young boy with his throat slashed (Jack?)  As well as the crazed rantings of the man.  Apparently, something had driven his wife to madness, slitting her son's throat and forcing him to push her down the cellar steps in self-defense.  With her gone, the malevolent spirt forcing its presence onto him.  That last sentence he scribbled was hearing two cars coming down the road
In the attic, Steven and Doc Millheim found the journals of Colonel Nathaniel Fuller, a retired Army officer who once owned the cabin.  According to his accounts, he had laborers move the large stones that littered the clearing and used them as part of the foundation, despite the pleadings of a few random Indians who begged him not to.  After chasing them off with gunshots and other threats of violence, they stopped bothering the construction. 

As the first group reconvened in the living room, the one wall began pouring blood out of it.  That was enough to make Dr Kobza go completely catatonic.  Eric Bowfield  shuddered uncontrollably and staggered closer to the fireplace.  As the others stepped and Steven and Doc Millheim made it down the steps, they could all see a large knife come out of Smitty's chest.   A wild eyed David was holding the other end behind him and it took the better part of the group to subdue him.

Eric had had enough.  That final horrific act to a man that had saved his life triggered a horrible fear of blood, so he bolted for the back door.  Unfortunately for him, the others had rehung the rabbits in the pantry, so when he busted through the door, he ran smack dab into them, pulled them off the hooks by his force and essentially carried them as he ran out straight into the thick briars, trapping himself, and making him .... bleed.

For Doc Millheim, the only idea that had any chance of pleasing this malevolent beast was finding the skull and burying the body back in the cellar.  The skull was found in the armoire in the main bedroom.  (Check on the hurt man, still alive...)  Doc and Steve hurried down to the basement and buried all the bones with their own hands. Moments after placing the last handfull of dirt over the skeleton, an eerie spectral image of an aged Indian appeared.  The nonplussed duo watch the image repeat a pattern over and over, for what looked to be playing a flute.

The veterans of more multi-dimensional disasters with beasts man was not meant to see, did exactly what anyone would expect them to:  They climbed the stairs, grabbed the bone flute, and told their musically talented friend Hank to go downstairs, learn the song the Indian ghost was trying to teach, and play it to save everyone.  The ever eager Hank agreed, and ran down the stairs.  The pair proceeded to step around the catatonic Dr Kobza, over the corpse of Smitty and the unconscious body of David, and walked outside in the cool night air. 
They could hear  the sound of the flute coming out of the basement, even overcoming the incessant whimpering of Eric Bowsfield in the briars.  The cabin itself began to move as if it were a lung, the man they had hid could be seen through the one window walking towards the kitchen, there was an odd "pop" emmitted, and the woods went quiet.  When they went back inside and ventured into the cellar, they discovered Hank, his mouth a bloody mess, surrounded by the bodies of the family members, and Smitty.  Every tooth in his mouth looked like it had exploded.  Through his muffled cries, he described how he saw the Indian, and in proper hank fashion, thought he could mix a little improv to it.  After all, "These Indians didn't know jazz and Mozart and shit.  I thought I could make it much better."  After playing it a few times, the body of the woman came to life, then Smitty walked down the steps, followed by the young boy and finally man.  They all kept trying to steal his bone flute, but he kept dodging them, right up until he felt his mouth tingle and every tooth burst like a grenade.  Yet somehow, he kept on playing until the dead fell limp to the ground.
It took some time for the group to recover.  Over the Summer, Millheim and O'Hara led the effort to take the sacred stones out of the foundation and place them back in formation.  They even made a trip or two back to New York City to complete some research that was actually contained in the doctor's old shyster folk tale and Indian legend collections.  They also took the family, who were descendants of Col Fuller and staged a horrible accident that someone found within the week.  Once that was done, they took a quick respite as Hank took over responsibility.  He made Dr Kozba's month by filling his mouth with fake teeth, then got his lawyers in the action to inquire about buying the Maine property.   Once the bodies of the family were discovered, the legal teams took little time to finalize the property transfer at a significantly higher price than market.   The remains of the group reconvened on site to do what was necessary:  burn the cabin to the ground and cut down a number of trees to block to path from the road.  

For Eric Bowsfield, his first full encounter with a supernatural entity was horriffic to say the least.  Luckily, the view of his bride-to-be Katie, brought him back from the brink of madness, and some tender loving care helped him act like a normal member of society.  Most of his wounds were healed by the time the wedding occurred, and with the help of his new groomsmen, Steven and Doc Millheim, plus the "million-dollar" smile  of Hank, he headed into wedded bliss with a flicker of hope in this world.

For seven players, one many of whom hadn't played CoC in a decade, it was a great experience.  Even the conflicting play styles melded together as the madness of the situation set in.  Having the my two veteran campaign players just wash their hands of cabin by letting a novice handle it was the high point of the entire game.  Perhaps the death of Smitty has finally given them a better no-nonsense edge.  They're going to need it.

As I mentioned in my blog post detailing the whole weekend, here, the whole purpose of the session was to scratch "Playing Cthulhu with Hoyce (Eric Bowsfield)" off my gaming bucket list, but I sure hope we can get together and play again, even if Professor Bowsfield needs to retire to the simpler life of wedded bliss.

The Horrible Lonely House in the Woods from Worlds of Cthulhu #4.

Call of Cthulhu Character Creation App

It took me a couple of passes into before I grasped the news headline.

"Call of Cthulhu Character Generator for iPad". 

Holy crap, Cthulhu's in the 21st Century (and still dreaming in Ry'leh, I hope)!

The app is supposed to cover all the standard eras plus Invictus and Dark ages.   Random stat generation, skill point tracking, and random name generator for the unimaginative.   The best part is that the sheets can be exported via pdf file for printing to your PC or Mac. 

Not too shabby for a $3.99 app.  I'm still happy with my software made by the guys at Hero Games back in the early 90's.  The 3 1/2" disk it came on is long gone, but I do have a back ups of the back ups hiding in the house.  In fact, the old program feels like a lot of the iOS apps, so perhaps I don't need to try the new one out.

Otherwise, technology ho!

Check out the App Store on iTunes for more details.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Megablitz and more: Look away, Dixie's Land - Gettysburg part 3

This is one of the blogs I stopped following, as I wasn't interested in most of the material.  But more posts like this: Megablitz and more: Look away, Dixie's Land - Gettysburg part 3 might bring me back.    Nothing like grown men playing 54mm Garden Wargaming of the Battle of Gettysburg.  This post is the middle post of five, plus there's a link for an BBC Article as well.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Death from Above... in Style

Recently there has been some hushed discussions about Battletech in the first time since forever plus a day.  We are trying to visit friends Wooly and Jenny out in Western PA with our already overwhelmed weekend schedule, and since Wooly is the infamous Felix the Headhunter, I'm requiring a B'Tech game of some sort if we managed to pull this off.

One the most awesome, and wildly ineffectual moves in Battletech is the dreaded Death From Above.  Battlemechs equipped with jump jets fly up and attempt to land on top of the opposing mech, causing grievous damage to it.  In most of our games, the attacker either missed completely and did more damage to themselves from falling than they would have dealt from the attack, or they took a point blank barrage from the defending unit, missed, fell flat on its face, then got kicked in the head by the defender.

Good Times.

I follow Litko on Facebook.  Great counters and markers for a variety of games.  Two pictures were posted as "in the pipeline":
Why is there a martini shaker on this mech's back?

Jump around, Jump around

A jump jet stand is pretty cool, at least before I see it's price.   But that begs the question, in 25+ years of Battletech, what did we use before?

 All hail the mighty Chessex Dice Cube!  We were using the dice for the game, and the clear plastic container for the larger sets just fit over most of the mechs. 

Third World solutions to First World problems.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Baby Steps in 25mm are Very Very Small

This summer for gaming has absolutely sucked. 

Okay, perhaps absolutely is a bit too strong.  There was the gaming glut for three weeks around the fouth of July.  Four Call of Cthulhu games, Hoyce's bachelor party, which was a gaming-palooza (and one of the CoC games), plus I did have a fun and memorable Father's Day game.  Real life has thwarted any desire to accomplish anything, or even invite people over for some one-on-one gaming trying out Ice Warz, or some much-needed games of Contemptable Little Armies.

It's been so long since I put the base coats on my US Marines and Samoan Riflemen that I'll probably need to redo everything.  It's just that when the kids are finally wrangled for bed, I either (A) pass out immediately or (B) stumble to the living room to watch the four weeks I'm behind on grown-up TV, and then pass out. 

Yesterday, I attempted some baby steps.  With my wife at work and me playing the role of single Dad again, I loaded the kids in the car and we hit the local hardware store for a few items, followed my a trip to Michael's. 

When I visited Gamer's Edge in Stroudsburg back during the flurry of Cthulhu activity last month, I had snagged up set "B" of the Pegasus Palm Trees:

All I need is a drink in my hand....
Five palm trees with simply palm frond after palm frond to put together.   I actually found a nice tutorial for the set "A" trees here, and figured I'd try to follow it to jump start my painting and modelling.  

The only place worse than Toys R Us with two little girls, ages 2 and 4, is a craft store.  If I were my wife with them, I could have easily spent $30 on multiple dollar craft projects.  With me, a $2 treasure chest for each of them, pink felt square at 29 cents apiece, and Americana glitter paint on clearance for 29 cents a bottle should keep them happy for our next long-anticipated craft day.

For me, it was just a few large wooden bases, some modelling clay, and a mixture of sale and clearance priced bottles of paint. 

Last night, I actually had a half hour to sit at the dining room table without interuption and simply cut away the massive ammounts of flash on the palm leaves.  Unlike the claims on the tutorial, set "B" has no numbers to help determine the order of the leaves, so it wasn't until they were cleaned up for me to determine size.    Bad news, I sliced up my finger pretty good cleaning the flash on the tree trunks.  Good news, the blood cover flash will make great rocks for the base, so I don't have to dig out some old plastic sprues in the garage for that effect. 

If I can get the bases on the trees tonight, I will be predicting snow.  It would be appropriate, as Maja was preparing for it this morning:

Perhaps there's a rave at pre-school?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

(Kickstarter) Did I Mention the OGRE Kickstarter is Big?

It has been almost 14 months since the Steve Jackson Games' OGRE Designer's Edition complete a kick-ass Kickstarter.  Because of the huge girth of product that it entailed, the original December 2012 release date was blown out of the water.  The good news is that SJG has had a fantastic record of keeping their supporters updated on the slow go of printing a million and a half pounds of cardstock and cramming it all into one box. 

Okay, it's not that bad, but it is cramming cardstock into a box THIS BIG:
Somebody still owns a copy of Buck Rogers?  And admits to it?

Does size matter?  I think so.
When you consider the latest A&A Great War version is $90-100 and is still roughly the same size size of the original boxed set pictured AND is full of empty air, the Kickstarter becomes even more of a ridiculous bargain.

Who ordered the pallet of OGRE games?
I pity the delivery men in a couple of months...