Monday, December 30, 2013

The PEL for Cold Wars 2014 is Up!

The PEL for Cold Wars has snuck online (or I'm still too exhausted from the holidays to catch it).

Usually I point out a mixture of cool games I'd like to play, plus all the gnome games I usually  Given the the theme is Forgotten History, I'll also list a large number of the theme games, just to show what everyone else interprets it.

F-203 - Mons: First Contact, War Horses at Casteau, 21 Aug 1914
Fri. 8:00 AM, 4 hrs, 4 players GM: Phillip Gibbons and Battle Barn  WWI 25mm, Rules: Trench Wars modified for skirmish
As British forces advance deeper into France and then Belgium, unmistakable reports were being received from civilians that large numbers of German troops were advancing through Brussels towards the Belgian town of Mons. On 21 August 1914, A squadron of cavalrymen belonging to the 4th Dragoon Guards
were sent forward to reconnoiter ahead of the BEF
Great War Cavalry?  This might be my excuse to have a Thursday overnight stay.
F-104 - Brazen Chariots - The Battle of Dehibat - Theme Game
Fri. 9:00 AM, 3 hrs, 8 players  GM: Adam Wine and NOWS WWII 15mm, Rules: Brazen Chariots
On June 10th, 1940 Italy declared war on France and Britain.  Feeling that the war would soon be over, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini aims to expand the empire by taking land from the French Tunisian colonies. The Regio Esercito Italiano 10th Armyis ordered across the Lybia-Tunisa border to capture the French
Foreign Legion outpost at Dehibat. Take command of an Italian Compagnie Carri or a French Compagnie de Chars autosmitrailleuses de combat as they slung it out in a WW2 game featuring exceptionally painted 15mm tanks and the dusty border of this Tunisian "what if" scenario.
So, is this a obscure engagement within the well-known framework of WW2, or is it the wild imaginings of a GM who has some sweet tanks he wants to roll out on the table.  The description is vague.   It is forgotten conflicts AND battles, so the big eras (WW2 and Napoleonics) can be properly represented.
F-107 - Battle of Obilesti : Russians vs Turks -  Theme Game 
Fri. 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, 8 players GM: David Kasper and NOWS Napoleonic 28mm, Rules: LAWS of War 
In 1806 the Ottomans launch a new offensive against the Russian Walachia valley. Only a division of Russians staved off 20,000 Ottomans at the battle of Obilesti. Come fight for Alexander or Selim III in this colorful yet unknown battle.
See the last sentence in the last comment.  This sounds like the first Napoleonic battle I might have interest in since, a day before forever.
F-144 - Aerosan Racing in the Arctic 
Fri. 10:00 AM, 2 hrs,6 players GM: Jon Lundberg Sponsor:Brigade Games Pulp28mm,Rules: Home Rules 
Aerosan Racing in the Pulp Arctic, dodge Yetis and Polar Bears as you compete against the other racers. White outs and rough terrain are also threats. Players under 12 should have an adult along to help. 
I mentioned Brigade Games' Aerosans a long time ago, so it's nice to see them in any game, much less a fun game dedicated to team. 
F-294 - Black September – Syrian Intervention attempt – 18 September 1970 - Theme Game
Fri. 10:00 AM, 4 hrs,6players  GM: Tony Mazzo and RAW Modern 1/285 Rules: Challenger XXI Classic
In mid-September 1970, after numerous attempts by the PFLP to assassinate Jordan’s King Hussein and the Dawson’s Field Hijackings, in which three large commercial jets were capture by and subsequently blown up by the PFLP, Jordan declares martial law and begins a military crackdown on the PFLP and PLA. The Syrians drive into northern Jordan. Elements of the Syrian 88th and 91st Tank Brigades are met by the Jordanian 40th Armored Bridge in a head on clash of steel.
This is what I'm talking about, and I never get excited for Moderns.
F-150 - Gnome Wars: The Sikh Stronghold 
Fri. 2:00 PM, 2 hrs, 8 players  GM: Jim Stanton with Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes 
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!  Fantasy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars 
Everybody is pissed off at the Sikhs and is coming to teach them a lesson. Can they hold their villages and hilltop fort? What are they protecting that is so valuable? Why are you still reading this and not registering already?
The Gnome Extravaganza starts off with a bang.  Let's be honest here, if you put a gun to most GMs head and told them to honestly describe their event, 90% would give a variant to this.  Like all Stout Gnome events, you don't need to register for the even if you bring your own painted Gnome Wars unit.
F-261 - Breakthrough of the Hunding Position 26 October 1918 
Fri. 4:00PM, 6hrs, 8players GM:Steve Gelhard and HAWKS WWI 15mm, Rules: World War One : 1918
As the Allied counterattack advanced, the Germans formed a strong defensive position: the Hunding Position. French General Debeney's First Army was ordered to breakthrough at all costs with FT-17, St. Chamond, and Schneider tanks, air squadrons, gas, assault troops, and balloons with all types of artillery tactics. Elements of a German "Trench" Infantry Division defend against a French Infantry Division. Either side can win, depending on how well you plan and execute that plan. Player friendly rules...Beginners welcome.
A Great War game with all the elements I love/loathe?  Sounds like a winner to me!

F-387 - Lost in Moesia 170 AD - Theme Game 
Fri. 6:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players GM: Dan Hazelbark and NASAMW  Ancients 25mm, Rules: Field of Glory Ancient Medieval 
Roman Legions march to relieve a beleaguered Roman force a Carnuntum during the first Marcomannic war. Meanwhile a coalition of year, Vandals and Sarmatians attempt to defeat the divided Romans in detail. 
F-157 - Klein-Barmen: Rosenberg's Desperate Charge (German South-West Africa, 1904) - Theme 
Fri. 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: Roy Jones with Eric Alvarado Sponsor: Recreational Conflict, Prize: Miniatures  Colonial 25mm, Rules: Sword and the Flame (Modified) 
Concealed Herero riflemen, firing from boulder fighting positions, have stymied the German attack at Klein-Barmen. In a desperate move, Leutnant von Rosenberg is ordered to take his 5th Feldkompagnie, dash across unprotected open ground, and take the Herero position by storm! 

F-151 - "Even The Olives Are Bleeding" Jarama, February 1937 - Theme Game
Fri. 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: Don Manser Sponsor: Age of Glory, Prize: Prizes will be awarded 
Inter-War 25mm, Rules: Bolt Action 
Nationalist forces are pushing to encircle and cut off Madrid.  Republican commanders are tasked to stop Franco's elite Foreign Legion and Regulares from accomplishing this goal. Although in a good defensive position your forces are multinational with no common language or objectives and at critical times poorly led. "No pasaran!"  Players under 16 are always welcome with a participating adult. 

F-246 - Blackboots on the Trail 
Fri. 7:00 PM, 3 hrs, 4 players  GM: Mark Kinsey and Army Group York  Modern 15mm, Rules: I Ain't Been Shot Mum/B,Maso 
Rhodesia 1976: Reports of arson in the Africa Purchase Areas were not unusual, and they generally meant one thing –terrorists. So Mr Patel’s phone call, stating that the Chisumbanje Development Company’s storage sheds were burning was not just a job for the Fire Brigade. In response, Bravo Troop of the British 
South African Police has been deployed in their Crocodiles to conduct a sweep. Patel’s Wonder-Market is just up around the next bend…
S-210 - Picnic at Connecticut Farms 
Sat. 10:00 AM, 2 hrs, 6 players GM: Jim Reynolds and WNPG Sponsor: Eureka USA, Prize: Bears 
AWI 28mm, Rules: Teddy Bear Picnic
During the great war for bear indepence, ther are some picnics that go unnoticed. The British Bears moved into New Jersey to force the local bears to give them a picnic. The true bears of Jersey wanted to be left alone to picnic their own way. Come and join the picnic. kids game 

S-143 - The First Battle of Vailele - The Second Samoan Civil War - 1899 - Theme Game 
Sat. 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: Eric Jacobson Colonial 28mm, Rules: Contemptible Little Armies 
Samoa is in chaos! With the death of King Malietoa Laupepa, rebel elements have plunged the islands into their Second Civil War, and the Western Powers will have none of that! After securing the port city of Apia, British Sailors, American Marines, and Samoan loyalists now move toward the rebel stronghold of Vailele.
This should be awesome, but I am a little biased.

S-293 - The Battle for Jijiga - Theme Game 
Sat. 12:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players  GM: Tony Mazzo and RAW Modern 1/285, Rules: Challenger XXI Classic
In 1977 the Somalis give open support for the WSLF, in its attempt to seize control of the Ogaden Region of Ethiopia from the DERG. At this point the Soviet Union broke off diplomatic relations with Somalia and poured aid and Cubans into Ethiopia. The WSLF’s offensive against the provincial capital of Harar failed and they were driven back to the last major town before the Somali border – Jijiga. 

S-148 - Gnome Wars: Fort Gulistan - September 12th, 1897 
Sat. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players GM: Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes! Fantasy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars 
Fortified hilltop fort on the Northwest Frontier Province. Signals for help are frantically coming in from Saragarhi and Fort Lockhart. The sounds of battle in the distance and a decision are at hand: do they leave the safety of the walls to lend support to those in need, or do they stay to prepare for the attack that they know will be coming?  No one under 14 without a playing adult with parent/child teams 
S-146 - Gnome Wars:The Battle of Saragarhi - September 12th, 1897 
Sat. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players GM: Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes! Fantasy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars 
A signaling relay post called Saragarhi in the Northwest Frontier Province. Twenty one Sikhs from the 36th Sikhs resolve not to hand over the signal post to the enemy and seek safety elsewhere. Saragarhi will fall because a handful of gnomes in that make-shift fort of stones & mud walls cannot stand the onslaught of a thousand enemies.

S-147 - Gnome Wars: The Assault on Fort  Lockhart - September 12th, 1897 
Sat. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players  GM: Kevin Jacobi and Stout Gnomes Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes!  Fantasy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars 
Sikhs and British on the Northwest Frontier Province. The relief column was due two days ago, supplies and ammunition are running low. A dust cloud on the horizon brings hope, but it is the enemy. The remaining ammunition is divided and letters to loved ones are written for the defenders are doubtful that they will see 
another sunrise.
The 3rd Annual Gnome Mega-Game has a decidedly Sikh theme.  Hopefully we'll exceed our 30 players, 4 GMs, and 1200 gnomes that we got last year.  Of course, I also have two units of Sikhs to paint up for this after I finish my own stuff, so I need to start cracking.
S-156 - 1924 China: Lots of Warlords 
Sat. 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: John Spiess with Erin Spiess Early 20th Century 28mm, Rules: Trench Wars modified
Chinese Warlord Wu Pei-fu has sent his elite Tin Hat Brigade to escort gold and supply convoy through a quiet countryside. It should be no problem with FT-17 tank support just in case. However, bribes are common and rival Warlord Chang Tso-lin knows the route. He plans a nice surprise with his White Russian 
allies. Then again, bribes are common… 
How is this not a theme game?  Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things.
S-149 - Gnome Wars: The Joust 
Sat. 8:00 PM, 2 hrs, 30 players 
GM: Steven Stanton with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes 
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes! 
Fantasy 28mm, Rules: To Cry a Joust 
Come and play in a Gnome Wars Jousting Tournament. Rules taught. Fast and fun! 
No one under 14 without a playing adult with parent/child teams encouraged.
If you can be at one spot in the Host at 8pm, and it's not the bar, it should be the Joust!  I'm sure we'll get another barrage of dirty looks for having waaaaay too much fun.  "Crazylegs", defendered of all gnomekind, vanquisher of Canadian inpropriety, shall have his vengeance!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Apathy of the New Releases (January '14)

Solicitations for this month should be for February, yet the quality of the surprise me. I'm not changing the name of the monthly post quite yet....

My Must Have Want List

My Money is No Object List
CoC: Horror on the Orient Express ............................................$119.95
CoC: Secrets of Tibet ................................................................$  27.95
CoC: Steampunk Cthulhu...........................................................$  18.95
Horror is about $40 over my comfort level, and the other two don't wow me, but there should be a copy of them on my shelf

Osprey:  The Lewis Gun

The Imaginary Story List (Viscount Eric's Pegleg Gnome Games and Frozen Yogurt)
Academy Games
Freedom: The Underground Railroad  $70.00
Fun is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Underground Railroad.  If I were to make such a game, it would sure be easy and economical.  I think this one strikes out on all counts.

Legend Of The Five Rings Rpg: Book Of Water......................... $39.99
Legend Of The Five Rings CCG: Ivory Edition

Call of Cthulhu: Extreme Planets..................................................$18.95
 more fiction

The Doom That Came to Atlantic City ....................................... $70.00
The much-maligned Kickstarter disaster has found a home and a release date. Gimicky $70 board games woo me in the same way $70 boardgames about slaves escaping to freedom do, that is, they don't.

Dreamscarred Press
Pathfinder:Psionics Augmented vol 1 ...........................................................$24.99

Fantasy Flight
Star Wars X-wing Miniatures Game: Rebel Transport Expansion Pack ...  $59.95
Star Wars X-wing Miniatures Game:Tantive IV Expansion Pack  ............  $89.95
Those prices frighten me as to the direction of the game.

Games Workshop
More stuff the appropriate die hards know is already out.  Nothing looked reasonably price, even for GW standards.

Goodman Games
Dungeon Crawl Classics #80:Intrigue At The Court Of Chaos  $9.99
Dungeon Crawl Classics #81: The One Who Watches From Below $9.99

Margaret Weiss Productions
Firefly RPG    $19.95
Twenty bucks?  There's gotta be a catch...

Mayfair Games
Wood For Sheep: The Official Settlers Of Catan Cookbook  $25.00
A gimmick item, but some Catan fan will buy it.

Pathfinder Adventure Path: Mummy’s Mask Part 2 - Empty Graves   $22.00
Pathfinder Campaign Cards: Social Combat Deck  $10.99
Pathfinder Cards: Mummy’s Mask Item Cards Deck $10.99
Pathfinder: Bestiary Box   $39.99
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Gods  $39.99
Pathfinder Pawns: Wrath Of The Righteous  $19.99
Pathfinder Player Companion: Undead Slayers Handbook  $19.99
Pathfinder Flip-mat: Desert Ruins    $13.99

Steve Jackson Games
Zombie Munchkin 4 : Spare Parts.................$10.95

Studio 2 Publishing
Savage Worlds Weird Wars Rome.........................................................$19.99
Savage Worlds Rpg: Weird Wars Rome  Gm Screen With Adventure...  $19.99
Savage Worlds Rpg: Weird Wars Rome Map Druid Circle/village...........$14.99
Savage Worlds Rpg: Weird Wars Rome Map Frontier Fortress/village....$14.99

Twilight Creations
Zombies! Deadtime Stories  $19.99

The Lord Of The Rings Heroclix:
The Return Of The King 24-count Gravity Feed Display
Marvel Heroclix: X-men - Days Of Future Past 24-count Gravity Feed
Pathfinder Battles: Reign Of Winter Standard Booster Brick (8)
Marvel Heroclix: X-men - Days Of Future Past Sentinel Pack  $29.95

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

(12 Days) #12 Joyeaux Noel from No Man's Land

Whether or not I made all twelve posts for the season, Merry Christmas!

Instead of playing about warfare, let us surround ourselvees with warfare while we play.

Here's a slightly more organized version from Salute '10 of the legendary Christmas football match between the The Royal Welsh Fusiliers and German Battalion 371 between the trenches during World War I. 

In real life, the Germans won 2-1.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

(12 Days) #11 - Tom's Toy Soldiers: Ho-ho-horrible!

I'm officially beat, and I still have to venture out into the fray for a few last minute items.  It was nice blogging for everyone...

Tom's Toy Soldiers: Ho-ho-horrible!: For a festive post you can't beat these Copplestone Evil Snowmen . I've had them for at least two years and started them last y...

Monday, December 23, 2013

(12 Days) #10 Clearing off the Phone

I will be SO happy when the holidays are over!

My planned projects fell through (of course!), so I'll take adavantage of a few moments I took to clean some pictures off of my phone. I don't think any made the cut for a previous post, but here they are, as I delete them off from my 500 other pictures

Some gnome-themed imbibing during a Finger Lake Wine Festival at Watkins Glen Raceway back in 2012.  I chauffuered a van full of drunk girls to buy lots of wine, and I had nary a drop.  I did, however get to drive around the track in a pace car, which was certainly cool.

 Gnome on a Rope.  Manufacturer forgotten in time.

Greatest Poster of the last five years or so.  If I ever get a gaming room, this will be hanging on the wall.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

(12 Days) #9 A Little Present for the Dice Baseball Fans

I get a lot of different searches leading people to my blog.  Perhaps not as sick and twisted as the ones that Jugular Josh gets on his, Where There Had Been Darkness, but enough that I'm careful with my words.

Although, as I commented on his post, I'm soooo creating a Diabetic Giraffe for Gamma World.

The one expected search that warms my heart either comes up "Dice Baseball" or "Fireside Dice Baseball.  It's a pleasant surprise that so many people are looking for a set of rules for a game that were published over 55 years ago.  I espoused my love for the game here, and despite not mentioning it all since then, the post and the page I made for the rules have had some significant traffic.  The rules page is my seventh most popular post/page of all time.  Not bad for blog dedicated to gnomes and geeky gaming.

After a few messages and comments, I finally added the rules for tagging up runners and stretching out base hits to Dice Baseball.  Go ahead, grab two dice and try everything out.  It will work beautifully.

And any excuse to break out The Second Fireside Book of Baseball off the shelf is worth it, just for the first page:

At any rate, this may keep a baseball fan busy, until pitchers and catchers report, starting February 11th. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

(12 Days) #8 Victory Minis, or, "How'd We Miss THAT?"

This year's 12 Days has been problematic for two reasons.  For one, I didn't really think about any posts, save a lone topic, before the holidays hit, and second, there's been very little holiday themed material on the websites I frequent that could be used for filler.

One thing I used last year were some pics of holiday minis from Victory Miniatures.  I still have the link on my favorites, so after ignoring it for a year, I took a wander over.

These showed up:

After faithful gnomie Mike Lung has made tons of these bad boys, we discover they're not only available, but in bulk (25 for $20)?  They still are on the New Releases tab, so let's hope I didn't miss them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

(12 Days) #7 An Ode to Bill

If there's one problem with the 12 Days of Blogging, it's that it's interfering with painting!  Everything is finally out to start the process, but finishing these entries may prevent me from posting later posts of the fini shed product.

I could go in many different directions with my now-annual "ode" during this time of year, but I'll play it sweet and safe:  Bill from Dreamscape.

When you're on a coffee mug, you've hit the big time
One of the great advantages of living two blocks away from Dreamscape Comics was Bill.  He was the manager of the Easton location, and perhaps the one person behind the counter who had the right mix of customer service and product knowledge.

Fun Fact:  Despite being the Easton manager, Bill lived just a few doors down from the Bethlehem location.  Ironically, despite living two blocks away from the Easton store, I was the manager of the Bethlehem location.  I just assumed the owner Nick had shares in ExxonMobil he wanted to prop up with our gas purchases.  

Bill was an avid comics fan and part time gamer, just enough to let some wild eyed geek talk to him, but nowhere near the level of Comic Book Guy.  Despite his stereotypical appearance, he could easily win over any mundane customer with a nice mixture of empathy and knowledge.  

Fun Fact #2:  I believe it took all the effort from deep in his soul not to kill people on a daily basis.  Despite daily arguments with an owner who claimed to accept input, but rarely acted on it, and about 10% of the customer base that should not have been born, Bill managed to keep his cool at all times, and only admit to to close company what type of vengeance he would exact on them.  After getting a job at a different store, we would simply sit on some afternoons and compare customers.  It was sad when some of the worst frequented both stores, yet never bought anything greater than a pack of cards.  

Bill lived vicarously through the antics of the "good" customers:  the ones who could tell a story without starting it with "Let me tell you about my character," or "In issue #49 of X-Force, Jasmine Ducktape's states her mutant ability only works on mammals, but in issue 57, she uses it to enchant a Platypus, which I learned is mythical animal, from my friend on the BBS."    He seriously let us get away with murder if if amused him, as customers, as well as employees.

Outside a few games of Magic, we never got to game much, and that is as criminal as it gets.

Bill was a fixture for years, even hanging around after the close of the Easton location.  He got a degree of some sorts in computers and went off to real world.  When I swung by Dreamscape in the summer, he had happened to call the store at the same time.  He's now married, and just as it read in the prophecy, is the father to TWINS.    His life of geek luxury and prestige is long past him now, and that makes me feel a bit older than I should.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

(12 Days) #6 Gaming More With Less

Another post suggested from the NaBloPoMo people.

Paraphrased in gaming speak, "Are you gaming more with less?"

Back in the day in the late 80's, gaming with more was more.  Crunchy always trumped anything else.  D&D begot Palladium system, which begot GURPS.  If I had started gaming a year earlier, I would have turned to all the FGU tomes of convoluted charts before graduating high school. 

There was an idea that if a game had more specific rules, it was more realistic than the vanilla D&D.   Why then oh why did we pour over sci-fi tomes?  If the Tech Level for a 40d6 Dino Laser was the same TL that produce armor that was impenetrable to it, why bother?

Soon, real life settled in and I had less time to study books and charts.  Work, Girls, School, and Magic the Gathering cut into my role-playing time.  Less began more with TWERPS

I was introduced to The World's Easiest Role-Playing System, by Eric T Smith while we slacked off at community college.  After trudging through Gaming Club meeting after meeting, compiling massive character sheets for games we only played once, Eric broke out TWERPS, gave us all characters with one stat (Strength) and one item and we went to town.  Actually we left town, desperately running to the airport to escape a zombie apocalypse, 20 years before it was cool, man!

TWERPS was our default, if not go-to game, and we made a few order to Gamescience for their other products, with mixed results.

A year or so later, at the height of the "Complete" line of books for 2nd Edition AD&D, I committed heresy:  I banned all of them from the table. I did eventually permit one lone sub-race from the Complete Book of Elves, but I figured the social penalties from playing a "hated" elf far outweighed the statistical benefits (and I was right). 

The great thing about a homebrewed campaign is that, outside of a need for continuity, I could never feel forced to succumb to "canon."  Things were left bare until they were needed, and I was pretty good at making stuff up on the fly which didn't throw things off-kilter elsewhere.

Also around this time was the great Goth Revolution of Vampire, and the emphasis on storytelling, angst, pathos, and bunch of fancy terms that were discarded the moment everybody at the table wanted a royal rumble.  The Vampire dice pools never really reduced the amount of dice chucked at the table, but the grand idea of the story above the statistical accumulation seeped into D&D and most other genre of RPG.
Rule 0 "It's your game, make the rules work for you" was altered to Rule 0A "It's your game, make the rules work for your story."

I've never been one for story as the grand goal.  Fun around the table trumps story.  You can get a better story from a boardgame than a number of "hipster chic" campaign stories I've been privy to from behind the counter of the game stores I worked at.  That's why I scrapped six months of work on a Masterbook Fantasy game back in 2001 when Hackmaster first came out.  It's not less, but it had the base level of familiarity to it, and the parody elements allowed the learning curve to be a fun one, whereas every time I look at Masterbook, I felt like each cool new dynamic the game added was going to forced onto the players. 

Nowadays, I'm quite happy with a rulebook, adventure, and dice, no matter how it appears I run my CoC campaign.  I'm running Masks of Nyarlahotep more as a challenge to the group than anything else.  If they take the next step and become globe-trotting investigators of Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know, great!  If they pull back and continue to work around New York, or venture into Arkham Country, I'd have no problem with that either.

I'm actually Jonesing for a Risus game right now.  We've missed yet another Labor Day picnic game, and I wasn't going to force an RPG at a festive occasion like SATLOF when I had previously done it at Hoyce's bachelor party.  I've spent many a dog walk working on the basic premise of the game, as well as finding ways to blow it all up and still have fun (and a semblance of control) at the same time.  One day the Coffee Nazis shall make another appearance, and the ensuing chaos will make the players dream of days when caffeinated fascists from Seattle were their only worry.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

(12 Days) #5 Leaving Them Screaming for More!

Today brings another suggestion from the NaBloPoMo.

"Do you give people more than what they ask for, or do you leave them wanting more?"

For starters, I no longer do full blown requests.   If it alienates that one player for benefit of the many, I always choose the rest of the people. 
  • No, you can't bring in a character with soul-eating armor in a campaign of 3rd level PCs
  • No, you can't bring in enough magic items whosw xp value (2nd Edition AD&D) combined is higher than the combined xp of the party!
  • No, you can't buy a sniper rifle, in the middle of the suburbs, with no contacts.
  • No, you can't play a polymorphed dragon in a low powered Rifts game.
Am I being too strict?  Maybe it's just me.

I will, however, allow whatever unreasonable concepts you can thnk, so long as you leave the door open.  In my college AD&D games, we had numerous strange personalities.

  • Echellon, the pigeon raising priest of Shang Kai Tshing
  • Rolf, loner barbarian who was far more wise than everyone thought.
  • Talis,  womanizing bard, and Echellon's secret half-brother
  • Kane, monk style cleric, whose main weapon was Create Water
  • Maloran, the Beavis and Butthead of the group.
  • Norm Dingleberry,  Dwarven Mushroom Farmer, one-time Emperor of the Known World.
  • Ashe, a fairly standard min-max Half-Elf Ranger
  • Throw in a quarter ogre, and dozens of extra PCs from other people haphazardly joining the game and I had a LOT on my plate.
What did I give them in return.  Well, there's a certain school of thought that believes the GM is God, and as they say, God doesn't give you more than you can handle.

But I certainly did try my darnedest...

Every character got their moment in the sun, but the payment in return for that might have been a bit stringent.
Echellon got to be a Baron, but in between there were tornadoes, and spider people dopplegangers, and bankruptcies to overcome.

Rolf got to begin the process of a Talislanta Thrall tattoo (far cooler than it sounds at first) but he had to go completely out of his element, travel to other dimensions, and keep the group together in the throes of it's greatest challanges.

Talis got to be the womanizing jack of all trades he wanted to be, but got a half-brother, discovered his father only after his death, plus he DIED at the beginning of an epic quest.

Norm was the dwarf the wouldn't die, even though his stats and play style suggested otherwise.  At the end of the day he actually got his own Kingdom carved out of the ruins of the campaign finale.  And he still grew mushrooms with his own poop.

Did I say my guys are always classy?

Leaving them wanting more?  That's my goal for my Cthulhu game.  Investigators are going insane, getting blown up, and generally reading books and losing a grip on reality.  It's my job to make reality worth it for the characters.while they're being hunted by a cult, or losing their job due to the mythos-inspired episode of mania.  I truly want the players to utter "oh shit" and have a twinge of fear in their voices, yet be able to make the tough decisions to inspire the others to keep going in unlocking the secrets.

They still keep bugging me when we're playing next, through my personal storm of work, home, and the holidays.  I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

(12 Days) #4 Battle for a Slice of the North Pole

Ah, Saturday!  Yet another snowstorm hits the Northeast, and I was stuck at home with the girls.   Good thing I had something ready for them.

In the world of Gnome Wars, not only is Santa a jolly old elf who delivers presents to boys and girls all over the world, but he's also a world class arms dealer with advanced manufacturing facilities scattered across the North Pole.  It comes as no surprise that the Germans would be interesting in acquiring some of this technology, even if it risked putting them on the Naughty List.

Welcome to KIDD 506B-2 (Kringle Industrial Dormitory of Death).
I owe my soul to the company... pizzeria?
Not much to look at.  The "elves" live on the second floor of the workshop (top left), but they do have access to one of Santa's favorite pizza joints (center), as well as a baby elephant petting zoo (lower left) on their three days off a year.

German Gnomes
*Hans Blumenprinz - Commanding Officer - Pretty much the girls wanted the Prince on the table.  He had a d10 melee dice, but otherwise was as ineffective as a nobleman holding a bouquet of roses would be.
*German Infantry (2 units) - Seize the workshop
*German Cavalry (1 unit)  - Seize the workshop
*German Marines (1 unit) - Stop into Tony's Pizza without getting routed.   The Marines primary mission was to get the other units to the battle.  They were told to go back to their ship,  but first they wanted to snag a slice of pizza for the road.
The German Infantry and Hans Blumenprinz begin their assault. 
The North Pole Defense forces are essentially Swiss Gnome "Elves", complete with a few nurses wielding flagons of healing egg nog.  Basic security of the outer facilities is usually conducted by the Teddy Bear Infantry (Toy Soldiers freeze up in the ice and snow).  

North Pole Defense Force (NPDF)
*North Pole Security Force, full strength - (1 unit)
*North Pole Security Force, half strength  (somebody has to keep making the "toys") - (1 unit)
*Teddy Bear Mercenaries - (2 units)   Their pop-guns only have a range of 18 inches.

Also on the battlefield were the Baby Elephant Petting Zoo Staff, escorting a recently escaped baby elephant across the board and back to its barn.   The mouslings were escorted by Bruce Carmezind, The Most Interesting Gnome in the World.

Bruce and his Pachyderm-loving friends
The Germans began with their Bunny Cav charging across the open, unfazed by the short range of the Teddy Bear Infantry. The Baby Elephant caravan then moved, blocking line of sight for the rest of the Defense Force!

The German Infantry began it's slow march over the bridge....
"Daddy, these are a lot of gnomes!"
To accommodate the bottle neck on the bridge, my eldest, Maja, ran to the playroom and came back with a ramp for some playset  and placed it on the river, on the other side of the barn.

Great, my daughter just developed rules for a pontoon bridge.

The Generals ponder if the bunnies should retreat to the dollhouse.
The baby elephant caravan snuck off into the woods to avoid getting involved in the altercation.

The German Bunny Cav ran roughshod over the first unit of Teddy Bear Infantry, leaving only it's officer and one soldier in the wake of it's charge.  The other Teddy Bears jumped out from the cover of the barn and pounced on the bunnies in a furry savagery unseen since the great Battle of Build-A-Bear on Black Friday, 2002. 

The German Bunny Cav get stuffed by the Teddy Bears.

Let's talk about the baby elephant in the room
The fighting was so intense that both the bunnies and the bears eventually routed each other. 

The center of the battlefield was opened up for the German infantry to march right in.  The black helmeted Germans tried to split their forces and half attempted a direct assault of the workshop, but they were pushed back in shambles. 

The Germans were still poised for a tremendous assault on the NPDF line, but Hans Blumenprinz's high profile appearance attracted the attention of Bruce Carmezind, and two quick shots of his pistol fell the officer.  Rumors of Hans' survival have been unsubstantiated.

The black Germans turned their attention on the tree hugging mice hippies and their violent friend, but initiative was in the favor of the rodents.   The baby elephant's ancestors must have fought alongside the Sikhs....
Everyone's favorite new song... "Baby Elephant Stomp"
The carnage certainly weakened the Germans.
Peanuts?  Where?
With two players under five getting antsy, I decided to wrap it up.  The NPDF successfully defended the workshop, even though the Marines had skulked along the table edge and entered the building!  The Marines were less than a turn away from making it to pizzeria and achieving their objective. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

(12 Days) #3 Imagination is More Important Than Knowledge

Without using day after day of silly Internet jpegs and musings I've already covered and forgotten in previous years, I tried to enlist the advice of the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) for some variations on my themes.

The one for the 16th worked off of this quote:

"Albert Einstein said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." 

So, make it gaming related, is imagination more important than knowledge in a role-playing game?

I have to admit needing to softshoe atop the fence on this one.  Of course  there's different games the have different needs.  A special ops game based on Israeli Commandos during the 70s will require more specific knowledge than a D&D game trudging through the B-series modules in numerical order.  Likewise, some exotic world of your creation focuses on your creativity.used to keep your players entertain.  

For me, imagination requires a certain amount of knowledge to guide it.  Not making the fantastic mundane but to understand how if work within and affects the world.   This knowledge is pretty much useless you're talented enough to adjust and adapt your world.  In other words, for me, continuity trumps imagination and knowledge.

My Hackmaster campaign (2001-2004) is a prime example.   The campaign was just one random module after another, crafted around my world of Georic to make sense.  I certainly have the knowledge of the world to fit the module within its parameters, and I certainly can imagine variations needed to adjust it into said world, but the continuity needed to follow up on the results of the adventure within the party as well as behind the scenes makes for a better immersion experience.

Early on, I had a run Aldriv's Revenge  from Kenzer & Company for a fun diversion after the group completed its first quest.  I knew it inside and out, but had to rely heavily on campaign world knowledge when the group screwed the pooch and went in the opposite direction.    Knowledge gave me the tools I used to adapt and imagine a different direction for the group.  The Gran Duchy of Alois had a political meltdown from the loss of its primary heir to the throne, political machinations were thrown about, and ultimately, the new younger prince marries a  shrewd but power hungry damsel and the independent nation becomes a full blown satellite state to a major kingdom.  

I threw out using a number of options to ensure the group had a storyline.  The PCs landed in Saltmarsh, missed more opportunities, lost members when they tried to regroup in Orlane, and skipped a third adventure to get back the capital and figure out what to do then.

Their inaction allowed me to follow up and adjust the campaign world base on what happened (or didn't happen).  Campaign World knowledge guides the imagination to a logical conclusion.

Continuity is your friend, no matter what Einstein thinks... or The Doctor.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

(12 Days) #2 Wargaming 101

The Twelve Days alwayso has filler, so I figured to get some out of the way early. I can't find this posted on the blog with a casual search, so it's fair game.  Plus an Advanced Squad Leader mention!

Can't argue with these, nor do I want to.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

(12 Days) #1 Eric Jacobson, Two Years Later

Two years ago, I posted my Imaginary Stats during the twelve days.  I've relegated my dream character to being a slightly more charismatic version of Tom Arnold in True Lies.  I do not hide that fact from anyone.

Over the last two years, I've reacquainted myself with elusive concept know as sleep, so I've had some "normal" dream sequences.  I've also discovered that a smart phone is a godsend for things like that.  Usually I wake up out of a dream, and instead of dragging out a dream journal, or hitting the computer for a detailed word doc, I simply grab the notepad on my phone and type, "Brawling 2 pts, Sex Appeal 1/2 pt, Area Knowledge Iceland 1 pt."  Not all dreams are worthy of mention, ergo, no points.

ST: 10 DX: 11 IQ: 13 HT: 12
No changes to stats. Unless I develop consistent super-powers in dreams, it's much too difficult to improve them point-wise.  More likely, they'll start dropping as I feel older in REM sleep.

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

Disadvantages: Bloodlust, Nearsighted (corrected), Gluttony, Stubbornness,
Sense of Duty (Friends).  Enemy: The Mormons
Yep, the Mormons are now a rarely appearing enemy.  More on than under skills.

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

For breaking down the years, I'll try to the following.  I'll list the skills I had points in first.  Bolded means points were added to the skill and "+2" will denote an actual point increase of the skill .

Administration 13 
Archaeology 10
Area Knowledge: Lehigh Valley 13     +1
Area Knowledge: South Africa 13
Area Knowledge: Iceland 13 
Bard 18 (let me...entertain you!)
Boxing 10
Brawling 13
Camouflage 14           +1
Carousing 12
Conspiracy Theory 11
Dancing 10
Diplomacy 13
Driving: Auto 14
Driving: Diesel Locomotive 11
Economics 10
Engineering 12
English 14
Geology 10
Guns: Pistol 14
Guns: Rifle 14    
Guns: SMG 13
Hiking 10
History 15              +2
Hobby: Models 12
Intell Analysis 11
Law 11               +1
Occultism 14     +1
Punning 11
Running 13       +1
Savoir Faire 16
Saxophone 12
Scrounging 13
Sex Appeal 14
Sport: Basketball 10       +1
Sport: Golf 10
Stealth 11
Survival: Mountains 12
Survival: NBC 13
Swimming 10
Tactics 12                        +1
Wrestling 10

New Skills from Year One: 15.5 new skills points!
Acting           12
Area Knowledge: Michigan Upper Peninsula  11
Area Knowledge: New York City  11
Boating       9
Drive Tractor Trailer  11
Fast Talk      12  (somehow, I never put points in the one skill every does for their own characters.  Guess I'm more of a Savoir Faire kinda guy)
Forensics  10

Year One Narrative:  I don't write down the dreams, but extrapolating the skills increases, I had some wild assignment involving a tractor trailer in Michigan, as well as some zany adventure in NYC.

New Skills from Year Two: 14.5 skill points!
Sport:Volleyball   9
Anthropology      10
Navigate             10
Hobby gaming.    11
Forgery               10
Drive: motorcycle  9
Interrogation        11

Year Two Narrative:  Analyzing the stats, it looks like I spent some time relaxing in the Lehigh Valley (as much as I've done in Iceland) playing in YMCA League B-Ball and Volleyball leagues.  The climax of the year was studying history of and infiltrating a secret society of Mormons, but getting discovered and fleeing for my life.    I kid you not, the Mormon thing was an actual and strangely vivid dream.  If the secret society ever comes back, I'll set up stats for the disadvantage, but in 3rd Edition GURPS, Enemy disadvatages earned during the "campaign" net you no additional points. 

I do like how, dispite the randomness of the dreams, this character is evolving naturally.  This is not a combat or social skill monster like you see in point based systems.  Skills are acquired through actions, not dumping points in your weapon of choice.  This character evolves more like a Basic Role-Playing (Call of Cthulhu) one than GURPS, where I wouldn't throw a half-point in Anthropology or Area Knowledge: Upper Peninsula Michigan unless I knew I'd be using the skill again.

Friday, December 13, 2013


One of the blogs I follow reminded me that today is Lucia.  For an American Swede, Lucia is usually reserved for the closest weekend, and is part of the service a Swedish Lutheran Church, so it's fun to see it as a family and community at large experience.

Lucia this year has been spread out slowly in our. Tradition dictated that the Christmas never went up prior to my Father's birthday (12/10), and I normally treat that as Lucia.  Between the wife and kids, work, and the animals, we've spent the whole week slowly assembling the tree and decorating the house.  A LOT of decorations won't even make in the house this year.  Two kids/two dogs/two cats guarantees it.

And let's not talk about what the cats have done to our poor artificial tree. The solace I would have is a real tree would be a far worse mess at roughly the same cost.

Saturday, I plan on taking the kids to breakfast and then setting up for a Christmas game.  If we get back from my mother-in-law's birthday party early tonight, I may have time to set it up (and not have the cats destroy it overnight).

While we play in a winter wonderland, as the region gets socked with 8 inches of snow outside, I'll take some time to whip up some Glögg, the seasoned mulled wine that Swedes (and wannabe Swedes) love so very very much.  A trip to a Pennsylvania State Store is in order before tonight's party.

Truth be told, it might be required to get through the party!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

(Podcast) Friends of Jackson Elias

I know that there are people in this world that can not survive a day at work, or the commute to and fro, without a pile of new podcasts and/or audiobooks.  I have to admit that I've yet to grasp that concept.  Even though I greatly enjoy their podcast, when there was a month long delay between episodes at the Miskatonic University Podcast, it wasn't enough time to catch up on their massive catalog. 

I've attempted to expand my repertoire, with little success.  The latest has been Friends of Jackson Elias, an irregular podcast by the folks associated with and the upcoming 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu.

Now I get the concept of blogging/podcasting:  regardless of cries of guerrilla journalism, it's merely an extension of your opinion, wrapped for public consumption.  Perhaps that's why I just don't like it.  I know it's not completely based on the accents, as I'm a fan of Cthulhu on Parade.   The problem is I can't actively put my finger on my issues.  The only example that stands out is the the panel discussing the worst spells in CoC.  I know most players and keepers agree with them, but their reasoning for despising Call Fish and removing its tiny blurb from the next edition is so over the top that I can't take them seriously.  It's a perfect example of "mundane magic" offered by the Things Man Was Not Meant to Know to support their followers.  C'mon, half the deep one stories are based on dealings with humans and applications of the spell.  I imagine it used more often, albeit in a perfunctory way, than Summon Freakin' Cthulhu!  Most spells exist just for the investigators to prevent their casting.  Some as there for the investigators to cast only as a last-ditch attempt to hold back a worse rising tide of chaos.  Spells like Call Fish remind people that the unknown magics are sometimes benign, or at least appear benign.

That little topic threw me completely off a podcast I considered marginal at best. I've tried a number of podcasts devoted to D&D that I realize that the hosts don't get the game in the way I get the game.  Neither opinion is wrong, but it deviates so far from my "norm" that I can't enjoy it without screaming back at my computer/iPhone.  I don't feel I can give them a proper review without listening to more, and that's something I won't devote time to. 

Friends of Jackson Elias

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Relief Has Arrived!

It's take some time, but I can clearly say we'll have a gnome in the home for Christmas.   After being accidently packed up with Jim's things after Cold Wars, my Swiss Gnomes (and cohorts) have arrived back in Pennsylvania.

Final formation, before getting dismissed for some well-deserved leave.
They survived their long march through the UPS Pass, but a few got unbased along the journey. 

Their leave will be short-lived, as I'll start touching up the Rangers, rebasing the Redhats, repainting the British Marines' hats, and possibly finding a new direction for the neglected Swiss.  There's an important mission for them this Saturday.  Details to follow.

After them, it's "Samoa" painting for Cold Wars (I kill myself sometimes!) and prepping some Sikh Gnomes.  No written confirmation from Jim, but next year's Mega Game is huge.

And you can't have Mega without ME!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Samoan Civil War Event for Cold Wars has been submitted!

After much thrashing about and gnashing of teeth, I have finally submitted my event for Cold Wars in Lancaster, March 6-9. 

The First Battle of Vailele    Theme Game
Saturday 10am
System: Contemptible Little Armies
Scale: 25mm
Era: 19th Century Colonial
6 players (I can accept 2 additional walk-ins/invitees)

Samoa is in chaos! With the death of King Malietoa Laupepa, rebel elements have plunged the islands into their Second Civil War, and the Western Powers will have none of that! After securing the port city of Apia, British Sailors, American Marines, and Samoan loyalists now move toward the rebel stronghold of Vailele.

Jim is assembling the Gnome Wars events as well.  Looks like a Cold Wars will be the marquee convention yet again for Gnome Wars in 2014.

For now, I have one more insane day at work, and perhaps things can calm down from here on out.

Please stop laughing, it's impolite.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


The high point for the weekend was my groups' annual SATLOF (Saturday After Thanksgiving Left Over Feast).  It's traditionally a day of mouth stuffing, alcohol imbibing, and games of some sort. 

Last year we encountered a new concept: lots of babies.  This year the babies turned into small children and the place to be was the toy box in the living room.  

That's not to say a few of us ventured down into the basement with our turkey, cranberry stuffing, pad Thai, and trash can punch and broke out a game.

My friend Nate had created a full blown Game of Real Life.  Gameplay and the key life events are the same, but most of the game spaces are covered over.  High school careers include, military, drain on society, day laborer, and stripper.  College earns you politician, zoologist, and computer whiz.  

The main appeal of the game is the event deck.  Land on a space that isn't a pay day and you draw a card.  Win the lottery, get a divorce, lose your job, get married again (divorce is not necessary).

By the end of the game, we had a mad dash to the finish with an ex-military stripper with emphysema and a lesbian politician with two affairs and a set on conjoined twins.  Of course, we were more concerned about the polygamist rock who lived in an RV with his ex-wife plus two husbands.  

Of course, most traumatic card pulls require you to take a shot (or two) so everyone was in good spirits at the end. 

Perhaps the most amusing thing of the night came from my buddy Hoyce, who told me he had started playing in a post-apocalyptic LARP... With zombies. 

I thought I had seen it all.  Actually in more pissed off that I hadn't thought of this first.