Wednesday, April 30, 2014

6mm Drilling Rig

Outside of my lone game of Battletech at the Birthday Extravanganza, and oggling the OGRE boxed set, I have little need nor desire to play 6mm (1/285th).  However, when something is presented as well as it was by Angel Barracks on TMP, it deserves mention.

Full disclosure:  the only thing that's included in the Drilling Rig kit is the rig itself.  The storage tanks, building, and vehicle are all sold separately, but it does make a great piece.  The rig stand 95mm tall and comes in three parts for around $16.00US

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

There's a Gnome Loose in Scranton!

I believe I have recovered from my birthday festivities.  Next year (or perhaps it should be next time) I'll put a little more time and effort into it.  Still, in 14 hours in a rural fire hall, I got more gaming done than in the last few cons... combined, and I hope others feel the same way. 

From my birthday gifts, the residuals keep rolling in.   I finally got my Reaper Mousling Tavern set directly from Reaper.  Perhaps I blinded myself from reality but I completely forgot it was $40 MSRP.  The case it comes in is HUGE, so that's one bonus.

I also got my free figure from RAFM for their CoC Minis Promotion they were doing on Facebook.  Little Jimmy Burke, Gangster is a TALL figure, and despite all that extra lead the muzzle of his Tommy Gun is incredibly fragile.

As some may have noticed over the past few weeks, I've begun my never-ending game of catch-up with my Call of Cthulhu campaign actual plays, and trying to reconstruct the second half of my Hackmaster campaign (2001-2004).  Work has been slow enough to allow me to bring books in attempt to recreate adventures that never made it into the campaign journal.  Once I get past them, they should read a bit better.

Now for the big news:  Let the record show for the prosecution that I imagined smothering my lovely wife with a pillow for a long time.

My wife is on the Board of Directors for A Positive Promise Pitbull Foundation, which, if you can gather, is heavily involved in rescuing pit bulls and educating the public.  They're having a 5k "Race to Rescue" on June 7th at Nay Aug Park up in Scranton, PA.  It should be a hoot.  I already volunteered to help out with registrations and post-race stuff.
After walking the dogs last night, I found that I had been invited to a Facebook event:

Eric's 5K Race to Rescue Extravaganza
A Positive Promise Pitbull Foundation will be holding their annual 5K Race to Rescue on June 7, 2014 at Nay Aug Park.

Since I love dogs and Eric loves to run (!?!?), we are joining forces to raise some money for an awesome cause!

If we can reach $500 in donations, Eric will run the 5K... if we can raise $1,500, he will do so dressed as a gnome!

That's right folks, every dollar you donate brings up closer to having a gnome run through the streets of Scranton

Did I mention I love my wife?

Little does my wife (and most friends) know that under my bulbous frame is what remains of a high school cross country runner and track & field hurdler.   I doubt I will get anywhere near my PR of 17:21 set nearly 21 years ago (I was on the District XI winning Easton Area Cross-Country team.  I will never say I was great at it), but I have six weeks to prepare.  Considering I can walk the dog for 3.1 miles in 51 minutes, I should be able to get this down pretty quick, run a respectable time, and lose a couple pounds.

If I don't get heat stroke from the gnome outfit.

Any inquiries about donating to my gnomish cause, please email me at viscounteric AT gmail, and I'll send you my contact info.

Oh, how I love my wife....

Monday, April 28, 2014

(Kickstarter) Alternative Civil War: 1861

I'm almost through my little flurry of Kickstarter madness, and we don't have to eat cat food.  Then the Alternative Civil War pops up from across the pond. 

So far, it looks more like 28mm Mr Franklin's War, than another full-blown steampunk dystopia, and it's skirmish, so there's no demand to accumulate large armies. 

Personally, none of the figs really make me go "Wow!" except for the Freemason-Alchemist-Rifleman.

The Most Badass D&D Multiclass EVER!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

HMGS Board of Director's Ballot Has Been Mailed

Over the weekend I got my ballot for the HMGS Inc election for officers.  Nothing too exciting  and I don't have either a horse in the race, or a horse I'd like to take out of the race, so I'll persuse the option and perform my due-given right and vote.

Two minor quibbles. 

The biographies on the website suffer from poor font, a run on paragraph, and single spacing after periods.  Yes, single spacing is the "norm" I hear from the publishing police (even worse than the grammar police), but the other two faults in the format could easily be glossed over a double space at the end of each sentence created the a paragraph of run-on sentences, versus a run-on paragraph.

Second, there's got to be a better format than the biography/platform format.  I don't want overly structured Q&A, like a newspaper interviewing judicial candidates, but harping on being a grognard and successful at your business/career doesn't win me over.  I can't remember any board nominees who were under-educated, unemployed, and just started playing historical wargames at the last con.

The HMGS newsletter was recently released as well.  Since the newsletter is a labor of love for Bob and Cleo Liebl, it's not surprising to find the contents of it to be one article on Fall-in! attendance, and the reset each game that they played in/ran at Cold Wars.  It was surprising to see they played in our Gnome Wars mega-game, center table.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Do You Want to Summon Shoggoths?

My Google-Fu isn't bringing up anything, but after seeing my friend Jugular Josh on Facebook talking about his 6-year old daughter mentioning Elder Signs to adults, I thought up this little ditty.

Do You Want to Summon Shoggoths?
(Sung to Do You Want to Build a Snowman.  If you don't know which movie this is from, you don't have kids).

Do you want to summon shoggoths?
I think the stars are right. 
Cthulhu's cultists have all run away,
I guess this ain't the night. 

I used to ride byakhees,
Divine with Azathoth,
Now I can't summon fish...

I'm getting eaten by a shoggoth

It's what I wish...

If my weekend is as boring as I anticipate, there may be another parody song coming soon, this time based off of "Let it Go."

Oh, and Oaken.  Totally a cult leader. 

Hellooo.... Big Summer Ritual Sacrifice...

Apathy of the New Releases (May '14)

Easter is done.  My birthday min-con is over.  Let's look at early Origins/GenCon solicits! 


On Monday, I used the Reaper Gift Certificate and finally ordered the Mousling Tavern set after putting it on my Want List over 2 1/2 years ago!  I guess it's fitting that this month's Game Trade Magazine actually has stuff that interests me!

My Want List

CALL OF CTHULHU RPG:  DEAD LIGHT ................................................................ $6.95
A seven dollar CoC scenario?  Even if it's complete garbage, it's worth more than most of the lunches I've bought at work in the past week.

My Money-is-No-Object

Asmodee Editions
O/A FORMULA D: EXPANSION 5 - NEW JERSEY / SOTCHI ................................ $29.99
This month I violate a few of my normal rules for my Apathy column. Asmodee has a number of new board games solicited this month, but the one thing that caught my eye was the in stock mention of a Formula D set that covers Jersey and Russia. The Sopranos and Putin, all in one set!

Khepera Publishing
O/A ATLANTIS: THE SECOND AGE RPG CORE RULES ........................................ $49.99
ATLANTIS: THE SECOND AGE RPG - ACTION DECK .......................................... $12.99
ATLANTIS: THE SECOND AGE RPG - GEOGRAPHICA ......................................... $39.99
ATLANTIS: THE SECOND AGE RPG- HERO’S GUIDE ............................................ $25.99
I may or may not have missed this RPG, directly based off of the old Bard Games Arcanum line.  Hit the lottery, and not only would it all be mine, I would corral players to run this, no matter what.

The Pegleg Gnome (The Imaginary Store List)

4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
PATHFINDER: HEROES OF THE SIWATHI DESERT ........................................ $14.99
PATHFINDER: MONSTERS OF PORPHYRA ..................................................... $39.99

Armadillo Design Bureau
Captain's Log #48 ..................................................................................................... $24.95

Ares Games
CAPRONI CA.3 LA GUARDIA SPECIAL PACK .................................................. $34.90

Battlefront Miniatures
FLAMES OF WAR:  ARMORED RIFLE PLATOON ................................................ $58.00
FLAMES OF WAR: PANZER IV H PLATOON ........................................................ $45.00
FLAMES OF WAR: PANZERGRENADIER PLATOON ........................................... $45.00

BASIC ROLEPLAYING: ADVANCED SORCERY.................................................... $23.95
BASIC ROLEPLAYING: ENLIGHTENED MAGIC ................................................... $20.95

New releases for d6 blocks and loose dice.  A necessity in a gaming store, but when CoC modules cost less than dice, we may be losing the "candy aisle splurge buy" advantage with them.

Cryptozoic Entertainment
Walking Dead?  Twenty Bucks?  No Brainer.

Diamond Comics Distributors
Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1  ...................................................................................... PI
Gaming comics!  Pathfinder!  Scenario and tear away map in every issue!  Woo!
Five different covers!  No price information for the consumer!  Boo!

Evil Hat Productions
FATE RPG: ATOMIC ROBO CORE RULES ............................................................. $35.00

Fantasy Flight Games
Age of War ................................................................................................................... $12.95
BLACK CRUSADE RPG: THE TOME OF DECAY ................................................... $39.95
I'll believe this when I see it, and I still haven't seen it yet.

FADING SUNS: REVISED  GAMEMASTER’S GUIDE ............................................. $34.95
FADING SUNS: REVISED PLAYER’S GUIDE .......................................................... $34.95
The "new" FASA is finally in GTM.  It not the same as fifteen years ago, but it warms my heart a bit.

Games Workshop
Everything this month is already released, over-priced Chaos Space Marines, except for the Citadel: Quake Cannon Craters set.  Now, I don't know how big a Quake Cannon Crater is, but for $37.00, they better cover a full corner of the table.

Goodman Games
DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS #82: THE CHAINED COFFIN............................... $9.99
GM GEMS: Gold Foil Edition ......................................................................................... $34.99
GM GEMS: Hardcover  .................................................................................................  $24.99


TRANSPARENT: 55MM PEARL GOLD COUNTDOWN D20 .................................... $14.00
TRANSPARENT: 55MM SMOKE GOLD COUNTDOWN D20 .................................. $14.00

Kyoudai Games
PATHFINDER: THUNDERSCAPE -THE WORLD OF ADEN ..................................... $39.99

Monte Cook Games
Numenera RPG: Cypher Chest .......................................................................................... $29.99

Osprey Publishing
On the Seven Seas ............................................................................................................. $17.95

Paizo Publishing
                                                                                               ........................................... $22.99
PATHFINDER FLIP-MAT: CITY GATES ....................................................................... $13.99
PATHFINDER LEGENDS: RISE OF THE RUNELORDS - THE HOOK MOUNTAIN MASSACRE (AUDIO CD)  .................................................................................................................... $15.99
PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION: PEOPLE OF THE RIVER ............................... $12.99

Palladium Books
Rifter #67 ............................................................................................................................ $11.95


Steve Jackson Games
Hipster Dice .......................................................................................................................... $4.95
Another annoying, yet trendy dice game?  At least it's titled right.
Munchkin: Board of Health .................................................................................................... $19.95 Munchkin Legends ................................................................................................................. $24.95
MUNCHKIN LEGENDS 2: FAUN AND GAMES .............................................................. $10.95
MUNCHKIN PATHFINDER: DELUXE .............................................................................. $29.95
Studio 2 Publishing

Studio 9 Games
TREASURES & TRAPS: EXPANDED REALMS 2 EXPANSION ....................................... $6.95
TREASURES & TRAPS: RANDOM ENCOUNTERS EXPANSION ................................... $10.95
VILLAGERS & VILLAINS: THE BORDERLANDS EXPANSION ...................................... $6.95

Troll Lord Games
Waitaminute, Castles and Crusades is a decade old and has a 6th Edition?  Not printing, EDITION?  At least Hackmaster started at 4th Edition.  How many freakin' changes are between each edition?
Munchkin Adventure Time ......................................................................................................... $24.99

Upper Deck
LEGENDARY VILLAINS DBG:  MARVEL CORE SET ..................................................PI

Magic the Gathering CCG:  2015 Core Set
Skip the mortgage payment on your house for the time being, it looks like WotC will help you buy a second house by the time the Summer's over.

Starters, Boosters, and Mini-Games

Thursday, April 24, 2014

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule #2: Mutumbo Confidential

Septdec, 1132
It took some time for Mutumbo to recover from the loss of his friends.  Petrified with fear and survivor's guilt, he wasn't quite feeling himself, so he kept as low a profile as a Nubian man with giant gold chains walking around a European-style fantasy world can. 

He hooked up with a number of carvans working their way over the Skyforge Mountains, ultimately reaching the decadent Empire of Ras-Prythax.  Sitting in the town square, he came upon a sight for sore eyes, a quartet of Nubians performing weapons demonstration and doing tribal dances for a few silvers.  They were not from his tribe, but they also weren't from any rival tribe.  A quick bond was formed and Mutumbo spent considerable time travelling the continent from the Vikings of Wyrmnal to the Sydincates of Ispatlia.  The money wasn't always there, but he built up his confidence, his ability, and his personality from all the public demonstrations.

In the Marakeikan city of Celsior he encountered an adventuring party led by gnome titan Zorin Redrock while mutually investigating some obvious trickster, charlatan, or gnome illusionist.  (Really, why are these obvious frauds even allowed NEAR the town gates?)   Zorin did not trust the Nubian, but he was obviously a more experienced fighter than their group, and worst case, the numerous gold chains draped around is neck (and the neck of his odd steed) would pay for a suit of gnomish Field Plate once he died.

And with that Mutumbo became a member of what would soon be, the Burning Trogs.

Next in the Hackmaster Campaign:  Burning Trogs Rule! #3 - In Search of Adventure, or, Desired Humanoid Immolation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #1: Origins

Septdec, 1132 - Village of Califon, Kingdom of Marakeikos

While a forest river in western Talaishia was the final resting place for a group of ragamuffin adventurers, on the eastern half of the continent, something fantastic was just starting.

The Kingdom of Marakeikos was still carving its niche out the northern border of the Barthey Empire.  Orcs to the west, were-creatures and Dread Lords to the north, pirates and slavers on the seas to the east, and a corrupt empire having second thoughts ceding land to a rebelling duke, Marakeikos looked for strong adventure seeking individuals to strengthen the kingdom in spots where the army was stretched far too thin.

Califon was such a place.  Still a hard day's ride from the border fort of Frandor's Keep, Califon was a launchpad for caravans, adventuring parties heading into the Orclands, mining and logging interests headed towards the capital, Mirros, and as many frauds and charlatans to ease them of the burdens of their fortunes.  It's 2,000 inhabitants were in a tight spot along the river, but late summer brought an extra 3,000 crammed in every inn bed, tavern floor, and open spot outside of the safety of the rickety town gates.  A perfect place for anyone seeking fame and fortune.

Sitting around the Drunken Tilted Keg were:
  • Zorin Redrock, Gnome Titan Fighter.  Veteran of the Barbarian Wars against the Gnomish City-States, Zorin had retired and has honing his skills for future glory in Markakeikos.  Unfortunately, his near bloodthirsty disdain for humans was putting a krimp in his plans.  He was accompanied by his cousin.
  • Janus Redrock, Gnome Titan Priest of Pangrus.  Looking for brawling and booty (both financial and otherwise), Janus made the killing machine of Zorin even more effective
  • Gwendylyn Lorax, Half-Elf Druid.  Even a Druid of the native Rifflani Elves needed a moment or two in the dirty city for supplies and information.
  • Brother Thomas,  Human Monk.  It was never ascertained exactly which monastic order Thomas orginated from, only that he could indeed kick ass.
  • Esmerelda,  a quiet, unassuming human thief, possibly skilled in gold digging, and I'm quite certain she put no BPs into any mining skill.
  • Marek the Mage, some claim this bookish human magic-user acted like a prick when he was drunk, but his true friends knew the truth:  unless you dealt with him in the matters of magic, he was a jerk regardless of sobriety.
The legends of those early days are quite vague.  It seems like every other adventuring company was formed after rescuing someone from/investigating a goblin-infested root cellar.  Perhaps the Trogs, before they became the Burning Trogs, were the first to encounter it and legends duplicate via sheer willpower. 

What they found in the burrows that broke through the wall of the root cellar is up for debate.  Some claim it was a minor goblin warren, some believe they breached the old sewer system from the Golden Age of the Traldar people.  Still, others, some the most foolish people you might meet, make outrageous claims of an upside-down zigguarat and a necromantic cult.   All of the tales end in success for this party and the their decision to hang around for more success.

If the Trogs had their own movie the next few adventures would be wrapped up in a training montage.  Clearing out houses of stirges, raiding minor crypts, barely keeping themselves alive were the stories of the day.  The party improved their abilities (the gnome-titans half as fast due to their half-xp gain), and Zorin was learning to slightly tolerate the humans a bit more without hourly threats of groin stomps.
Then the black guy showed up....

As much as I love the journal system for tracking the campaign, it created a problem when the journal wasn't available at the beginning.  With players needing to take evening classes for college, we angled the game schedule to accomodate the most players.  Some of those players who couldn't make would get pick up sessions on the side to keep their stories going.  It just happened that the one player had the campaign journal to subsequently disapeared for the entire semester.

Next up for the Burning Trogs:  Burning Trogs Supplemental #1 - The Untold Tales of Mutumbo

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wargaming with Barks: Leviathan 2014

I don't usually link up to other people's blogs, but this post from Wargaming with Barks: Leviathan 2014: in Sydney, Australia adds to one of my great mysteries.  The third pic down is this one, reproduced here for effect:

This picture of the Teddy Bears painted in a toy soldier finish is great, but the caption beneath it intrigued me more:  "Seven Years Picnic from MBD"

This just adds another layer of confusion to the status of the Teddy Bears.  MBD is Mike Broadbent Designs, the scultptor and owner of the figs.  Was he selling them in Australia?  Was this just a display (I see Romans next to them)?  I just want to know the status of these little guys, and who I can buy them from in the states, should I buy a winning lottery ticket tonight and catch up on all my back burner projects.

Anyone know what's going on?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Viscount Eric's Day of Gaming AAR

Lordy, Lordy, ViscountEric's forty!

So, if this is the first post you've ever read from this blog, my wife decided to rent a local fire hall for the whole day for my birthday present, and I sent an open invitation to the world to come on down, play games, and eat cake.   It was not GenCon, but it was the most fun I've had in a looong time. 

I got to the fire hall at 7am, brought in the forty pounds of food my wife cooked, and set up the hall, save for the folding chairs.  I figured early on that until the "mundane" friends and family came by in the late afternoon, we would keep a policy of "Welcome, come on in.  Grab a chair off the rack."  It saved us from putting away an extra 30 chairs that night, and I had a lot of help mid-afternoon to set up the dozen or so chairs we needed at the time, and it was done in a matter of seconds.

With the food in the fridge, a danish and Mountain Dew in my gullet, I set up mostly round tables with two groups of long tables:  one for my Samoa game, which was ready at 8:30, and one for Cinderella's castle and a pile of toys for the kids. 

The fire hall was large, spacious, and had free soda (including white birch beer) included in the contract.  Unfortunately, it was also out of the way for my guests (who travelled as far as Philly and the New York state line) the acoustics were horrible unless you were sitting around a table.   We only had a handful of people by the time the first session was supposed to start.  No, let's be honest, we only had three people at 9am, myself, my friend Brian, and Jon, a very nice fellow who discovered the event on Meetup and volunteered to run "Basic/Classic" D&D for the "A" slot.  Since Jon could only be there in the morning I made it my mission to get the D&D game run, but as we waited, my other friend Steve showed up and broke the gaming ice.  Steve's mission that day was to play as many of the games he had picked up via Kickstarter and never actually played, so he pulled out Dugeon Roll. It was a great little fantasy dice game with a very Cosmic Wimpout aura to it. 

By the time we were done with that quick game, we had EIGHT players for Jon's game.  While I was adamant we would run his game, between nostalgia and the fact that some random dude wanted to game at my birthday party, it was the counters that sealed the deal.   Apparently, Jon's main gaming outlet was using Rolld20 on Skype and that uses counters for the visual portion of the game.  Counters, that can be customized: 

Yes, that's a gnome and 70's Lee Majors fighting horse jockey Orcs.
The game was a blast, with its fun counters, small and very handy pieces of scenery, and eight players dedicated to having a ball.  My wife had shown up with the kids to deliver the second wave of party supplies and set-up the donut trays, so I had to jump out of the game from time to time, but I had fun every second I was sitting there.

After we successfully rescued the mayor's son and killed off a magic...Sleestak(?),  more players came in and we had 3(!) tables going.  The Old Guard hid in a back table and tried to recreate the days of our youth, when we had more hair and it was not gray, by breaking out Battletech.    Brian had brought the new introductory boxed set and Scott had brought a drool-level mini case full of old Ral Partha figures.    Teaching Steve as we went along, we played a 3-on-3 game that included a failed Death from Above, and AC20 blast in the center torso of the previously mentioned jumping mech, a mech shutdown on a 10+, and a conga line of back shots that all missed.  Don't mess with the Urbanmech, until it's out of ammo.

By that time, we quickly set up a few chairs and I attempted to help my wife lay out the food.  Another couple groups of gamers came in, mixed it up with the rest, including another round of Dungeon Roll.  My daughter's started to get antsy and we went over to the toy table and did a quick (45 minute) game of TIARA.  I had intended a Gnome Wars "Assault Cinderella's Castle" game at some point, but the girls had taken the the shoebox building, built a gate/bridge between them using some rulers and parked a truck in the middle.  I tried to bust through the gate using my Burning Plastic armor and jets, but it was too tough.  When I finally did breakthrough with some jets,  a large Sully (Monsters Inc) action figure knocked them out of the air, King Kong style.

After the family came in and we did food and cake (forty candles is only appropriate when the fire trucks are 50 foot away in the same building).  James Burns, one of the Mepacon regulars had come down with a "tub o' boardgames" and we learned the Legendary card game for Marvel.    The pet peeve amongst the players was that the game was significantly tougher the more players you added.

Finally, as it neared quarter to eight, Droz and Steve took sides on my Samoa table, only 11 hours late.  I tweaked the movement of the allies (d6 through the jungle), and the allied artillery wiped out two whole units of rebels, which subsequently became ambush snipers in the jungle.  Droz managed to shake off the rebel spearmen with only minor casualties (outside of the British Sailors, whose courage will be sung in Samoan legends forever more) and they called the game as the Americans were huddled with their Samoan loyalists, pondering an assault on the trenches.

"Steady boys...."

My thanks to James Burns and his girlfriend/fiancee, for bringing their tub o' games.
Thanks to Mike Sarno, who survived a three hour drive both ways with a car full of tween girls. 
Thanks to my friend Kenny, a mundane, who did enough research to get me a Reaper Electronic Gift Certificate.
Thanks to Droz, Brian, and Steve, for not only participating in the Samoa game, but cleaning up and chatting till after 10pm, even though all of you had LONG rides home.
Thanks to everyone not mentioned for coming and celebrating my day. 

And most importantly, thanks to my wife Michelle, for the whole idea of the fire hall, the ridiculous amounts of food.  I could not have asked for a better birthday, at 40, 41, or 141.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter to One and All

Happy Easter, the one holiday where even the wicked Chicka Zulu and Gnomekind can coexist...

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 Origins Award Nominations

The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design has announced the nominees for the 2014 Origins Awards.  It looks like the voting will take place ONLY at Origins and the winners announced on Saturday. 

The subtitle of this post should be, "I'm so freakin' out of the loop."

Best Roleplaying Game
13th Age – Pelgrane Press
FATE Core System – Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Mummy: the Curse – White Wolf Game Studio
Numenera - Monte Cook Games
Shadowrun: Core Rulebook – Catalyst Game Labs

My first thought when looking at this list was, "Good Lord, it's the mid-90's all over again!"  Numenera should win, but I was mighty impressed with FATE Core when I perused it.

Best Roleplaying Supplement
DC Adventures Universe – Green Ronin Publishing
Heart of the Wild – Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Transhuman – Posthuman Studios
Night’s Watch – Green Ronin Publishing
Eternal Lies – Pelgrane Press

Outside of obviously being aware of  DC Adventures, I haven't a clue what any of these are.

Best Board Game
Trains – Alderac Entertainment Group
Time n Space – Stronghold Games
Space Cadet: Dice Duel – Stronghold Games
Krosmaster Arena – Japanime Games
City of Iron – Red Raven Games

I may have to go through the last year and a half of my Apathy columns, because I don't remember putting any these under my "Imaginary Store" list.  That certainly doesn't say they aren't all great games, but somewhere the presentation was missing.

Best Collectible Card Game
Pokemon Black & White Legendary Treasures – The Pokemon Company, Intl.
Pokemon Red Genesect Collection – The Pokemon Company, Intl.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Battle Pack 2 – Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Super Starter V for Victory – Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legendary Collection 4: Joey’s World – Konami Digital Entertainment

I have a strong feeling that certain companies didn't submit products towards the nominating committee.  These two games may very well last as long, if not longer, than Magic. 

Best Traditional Card Game
Love Letter– Alderac Entertainment Group
DC Comics Deck-Building Game – Cryptozoic Entertainment
Boss Monster - Brotherwise Games
Clubs – North Star Games
Marvel Legendary: Dark City - Upper Deck

Outside of the general comic book buzz associated with Marvel/DC releases, Love Letter looked like a great concept.

Best Children’s, Family, Party Game
Walk the Plank – Mayday Games
Three Little Pigs – Iello
My Happy Farm – 5th St. Games
ROFL – Cryptozoic Entertainment
Choose One! – Looney Labs

The only one of these that I was aware of was ROFL, and that's simply because I follow John Kovalic on Facebook and Twitter and he did the art (and lots of shameless self-promotion) for it.  I would abstain.

Best Game Accessory
Krosmaster: Fire & Ice – Japanime Games
Shadowrun GM Screen – Catalyst Game Labs
Fate Dice – Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Space Gaming Mat – HC+D Supplies
Pathfinder Battles: Skull and Shackles – WizKids Games

Nary a clue...  I can't justify dice specifically used for one system, a gaming mat, or a GM screen, unless it's in the realm of the Hackmaster 4th Edition monstrosity.  I would abstain again.

Best Miniature Figure Rules
Marvel HeroClix: Avengers Vs X-men Starters – WizKids Games
Battletech Alpha Strike – Catalyst Game Labs
Judge Dredd – Warlord Games

Did they revamp the HeroClix rules so the Avengers vs X-Men is considered "new?"  I haven't seen or heard of anyone playing Judge Dredd, and my little involvement with Battletech gives a mediocre grade on the Alpha Strike rules.  Abstaining again.

Best Historical Miniature Figure/Line
Fife & Drum: Revolutionary War - Fife & Drum
Highlander Force – North Star Military Figures
Fate of a Nation: Arab Israeli Wars – Battlefront Miniatures
Red Army: 28mm Russian Infantry – Wargames Factory
Devil Dogs and Dragons – Empress Miniatures

Fife and Drum, hands down.  Clean, scale proportioned, and not horribly overpriced.  Not even close.
Best Historical Board Game
SOS Titanic – Ludonaute
Navajo Wars – GMT, designed by: Joel Toppen
Freedom: The Underground Railroad – Academy Games
1775: Rebellion – Academy Games
Francis Drake – Eagle Games

Back to the Apathy columns, because with the exception of the Underground Railroad game, I don't remember any of these.

Best Historical Miniature Rules Supplements
SAGA: Varjazi & Basileus – Gripping Beast
Flames of War: Fate of a Nation – Battlefront Miniatures
Force on Force: Classified – Osprey Publishing

Again, another case of no one submitting product for nomination?   They aren't even the best products of the respective companies for 2013.

Best Historical Miniature Rules
Fields of Fire 2nd Edition – Proving Ground Games
Fire and Sword – Wargamer
Chain of Command –Too Fat Ladies


Best Miniature Figure Line
Malifaux: The Guild’s Judgement– Wyrd Miniatures
HeroClix: Wolverine and the X-men – WizKids Games
MERCs Mini’s (Shock Trooper, Spy, Eagle, Beacher) – MegaCon Games

Ditto to the nomination process, but I would vote for Malifaux.  Not my personal preference of figures, but it is a nice product.

Best Game Related Publication
Khan of Mars – Evil Hat Books
Fire for Effect – Catalyst Game Labs
ICv2 - Editor: Milton Griepp
Dork Tower – Editor: John Kovalic
TableTop – Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day

Fiction, Comics, and Web videos?  I gotta go with TableTop on this one....


Thursday, April 17, 2014

All Quiet on the Martian Front Starts Shipping in May

It was almost a year ago that the All Quiet on the Martian Front Kickstarter was funded, and Tuesday they announced that the first shipments would finally be going out in May.  If I had been a supporter, I would have been a bit concerned about this if (a) I hadn't played the game at Cold Wars and seen the minis in action and (b) if there wasn't so much STUFF to manufacture.  Tons of vehicles, tripods, and loose infantry was bad enough, but they added trenchworks in the latter stretch goals.  It's a LOT of stock to create and manufacture from the ground up.

Then there's this:

The Land Ironclad, FOUR POUNDS of resin, metal, and plastic, ready to obliterate the Martian scum.  It's 12 inches long, six inches high, four inches wide, MSRP was $85, and the supporters could purchase them as an add-on for only $55.   As the designers noted, it's quite certain the the MSRP will be going up once the KS units are mailed ($100+ probably).   Not bad for something that's 15mm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ViscountEric's Day of Gaming is Coming Near! Woo-hoo!

It took a little while, but the RSVPs for my birthday party / mini-con are coming in.  We may need to buy more cake.  Surprisingly, we have six different event in the Preliminary Event List (PEL) for Saturday morning.   To give people a decent comparision, a successful (i.e. profitable) Bogglecon averaged 10 slots a session. 

It's nice to see that some local people realized that they could stop by for the morning slot and still take care of family issues later in the day.  The day before Easter is NOT a good day to schedule anything, only slightly smarter than telemarketing Catholics on Good Friday, but we'll make do with what we got.

We even have two scheduled RPG sessions.  And here I thought my impromptu IOU game in the evening would be the only one!

We have decided that is you wanted to throw a couple dollars towards chips, snacks, or bigger pieces of cake, who are we to judge?  Anything that won't coverage day of the con costs will be donated to the Wright Township Fire Department, or A Positive Promise Pit Bull Foundation, a charity my wife volunteers for.

Don't forget to RSVP if you're coming!  See you there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

(Kickstarter) A Week Left for Tanner Jones

Taxes are done! (State and Local.  Federal was done months ago!)  Now I can focus on my birthday-con on the 19th, my wife's super-secret insanity inducing projects, and following my Kickstarters to completion.

My biggest pledge for still active Kickstarter is Tanner Jones and the Quest for the Monkey Stone and that ends next Tuesday!  While the campaign easily funded and the first stretch goal for a higher quality book was reached, I'm beginning to doubt if it can hit the next goal, which includes a Tanner Jones coloring book with each $45+ pledge. 

I can't see increasing by current plege to a higher level unless my birthday-con rakes in a ton of cash gifts (accepted but NOT required to attend.  I want to game dagnabbit, cake and gifts are secondary to having a good time).  Wife's super-secret projects may interfere with extra stuff around the house like treasure maps and prints.

If I should give more praise to the artist Travis Hanson, it's that his updates to the campaign have felt far more tangible than Rafm, Chaosium, and Reaper's efforts, and may even exceed Golden Goblin's efforts for such a small operation.   I've gotten to see plenty of new pages for the book, either on KS or on his professional Facebook page.  Pages like this...

I have a feeling the Eureka pirate bears will have a nasty encounter, and we'll be cooking up some pistachio pudding.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blogger Stats

I'll admit upfront that I'm a statistics whore.  Sports stats, economic data, you name it, I like to compile and compare it.  I'm not a savant of the less tangible stats, like walk-to-rbi-to-on base percentage, or higher level min-maxing of characters, although I can appreciate something calculated with a bit a finese.

It should be no surprise then that I love that Blogger provides statistical breakdown for viewing activity.  As I creep closer to 100,000 page views later this year, I'm amazed at what leads people to my blog.  When I hit the earlier milestones (25K, 50K), I did a breakdown of what brings people here the most, and it hasn't really changed:   Gnomes, Mouslings, Settlers of Catan, and a weird Eastern European search for "1 maja 8, kudowazdrj"   The results seem to vary between music and porn, so I don't pursue them any further. 

Recently, I've had a spike in views from "zombie cakes,"  thanks to a measely post I did about my friend's birthday cake for her 5-year old.  I haven't looked around since, but her's is not the only family with strange zombie-loving children.

The whole reason I though about writing today was after looking at the stats for the past 24 hours, my current top 3 searches are:
  • East Stroudsburg Gamers Edge
  • Pops Culture Shop Wellsboro
  • Ron Meischker
This brings me to only two conclusions (1) I need to review more current stores, if I can get to them.  Life is getting crazier, but checking out stores only costs gas and time, perhaps I can arrange a little of both.  (2) It might be wise to review older/closed stores with an admitted nostalgic bias to show what I really am looking for a store, and possibly realized that the good ol' days weren't always good (tomorrow still looks pretty bleak, Billy Joel, no matter what you say). 

I WILL have an ice cold beer in the shade, thanks BJ!

I have a review of my old store, Griffon Games in the 20-some odd blog drafts I have on here, but I may need to expand that. 

And maybe I can get my wife to start decorating cakes again.  With a few zombie cakes I might be able to spin this off onto a new blog, or have my wife start her own.  Because when she said yes many moons ago, her first thoughts were a house, kids, and a zombie cake blog.  That I haven't been suffocated in my sleep is proof alone that she loves me.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

(Kickstarter) Miskatonic School for Girls: Holiday Expansion

The Kickstarters keep coming, and right now my wallet has already tapped.

Awhile back, the Miskatontic School for Girls card game was a nice success on Kickstarter.  Now the Holiday Expansion Set is up.

I didn't participate in the last one, didn't pick up the game when I actually saw it on a store shelf, and I won't pick up the expansion, but to paraphrase one review, it's girls beating up on cultists and mythos critters.  Just the cards themselves are awesome!

Friday, April 11, 2014

(Kickstarter) Darkest Star Games 15mm Tanks

Oh curse you Kickstarter!  Yet another project that piques my interest, and I don't even play 15mm Sci-Fi!

The latest potential bane to my incredibly shrinking wallet it Darkest Star Games Kickstarter for a line of 15mm Sci-Fi Tanks and Infantry.

Now, I don't play 15mm, but with that infernal buck "atta boy" pledge I can see how far this party goes, and just how much stuf I could get, as well as how much plasma I need to donate to pay for it all.

I also haven't the foggiest notion as to what a good price for a 15mm tank is, regardless of era, although with the pledge levels, I have a rough idea.  A single tank (plus US shipping) is $18, and stretch goal add-ons are available with that, but who needs one tank?  At $100, you receive 8 vehicles (in groups of 4) plus access to add-ons, plus potential freebies on four stretch goals.  If you lowball the value of the freebies at $15 apiece, that's 12 vehicles for a hundred bucks, or eight buck a piece.   Now a bad way to start your foray into the scale. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Invincible Overlord's Kickstarter isn't as Invincible to me...

Recently, my blog has been overflowing with posts covering every little facet that I normally cover. 

This is just an amusing anecdote:

I was cleaning out my garage recently, desperately sorting out stuff to store before the garage doors stay permanently open and I'm stuck doing yard work until Halloween.  One stack of stuff was a pile from Mepacon Fall 2013 that I had never even looked through!  Somehow I had snagged up a mint copy of Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play (1st Edition), and  I have to admit, I like the way most of the system work.  I love how you start as a minor or apprentice-style class (this is where the ill-humored ratcatcher is) and as you gain experience you are allowed to move to a different class.   Some moves are advances, some lateral, and even some are steps back to have the character move in a different direction.    I'll need to look at it more to see if something like this can be introduced into my Georic homebrew campaign world, or perhaps my "Home" Polynesian campaign would benefit more from it. 

Outside of a copy of Aces of Aces, I was forced to laugh when I found the 3.5 hardcover of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord.  Given that I had already pledged a buck and was pondering more towards the dual-statted Pathfinder Kickstarter, it's a welcome relief that I can use this.  Will it be as comprehensive and awesome as the Kickstarter, much less the original books?  Absolutely not, but with my gaming time next to nothing, I simply can not justify overspending on product that I'm never going to use. 

Sorry, Judge's Guild, you're only getting a buck...  but I hope a million other people donate a buck to. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

(Kickstarter) Marauder Task Force Gaming Figures

One thing I like about Kickstarter Campaigns is the ability to pledge any amount, sometimes as small as a dollar to support the endeavor.  A buck usually doesn't put a project over the limit, but I do get to ask questions, automatically get updates, and give a dollar's worth of an accepting e-nod to the company that their project is cool.  I'm currently doing that with the City-State of the Invincible Overlord, and I just did it again with Marauder Task Force Gaming Figures.
If I ever finish up the second edition of Burning Plastic, my next project on the table will be a wargame RPG using 3 3/4" figures (G.I. Joes, Star Wars, and a host of other figures).  As figure quality (and price) has increased over the years, these figures have had their own version of scale creep and average just about 4" nowadays.  The Marauder Task Force figures are 4" tall (1/18 scale) but can come with a ton of accessories.  They're essentially the "boy's toy" version of a fully stocked Barbie Dream House (or maybe those Barbie suitcase closets.  Hey, I had a little sister.  Full size GI Joe and Barbie had many exciting adventures.  I was a good brother!)

Let's be honest, $19 a figure is a bit steep at first glance, but for those of you who don't frequent the action figure aisle at Toys 'R Us, the average 4" figure goes for ten bucks!  You do save a little for a hundred dollar pledge. 

Like the City-State, I probably won't buy further into the campaign before it ends on April 30th, but it is wicked cool.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Birthday Extravaganza Kicks Into High Gear

Mepacon has come and gone, so it's time to turn to my next step on the path of total gaming domination, my birthday party. 

Here's the flyer I dropped off at Mepacon, essentially inviting the whole con:

It's been twenty years since I put a con flyer together.  Cut me some slack!
So far it's been a battle against my lovely wife and her friends, who insist on a "normal" birthday party mixed among the gaming, with food beyond chips, a cake, and just sitting around.  It's my preference that we find something for the kids to do, get a game in front of the adults, and watch them have actual FUN, rather than hanging-out-sitting-around-just-talking fun.  It's my birthday, I'll put up with the rest of that stuff the other 364 days of the year.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mepacon Spring 2014

I have returned from this Spring's Mepacon, held this past weekend at the Ramada in Clarks Summit, PA, and this time, I did not go alone...

With all the craziness of life at home (trust me, BIG news is coming soon) we decided to split up the kids on Saturday.  After a busy morning and a family breakfast out, my wife took Millie for a day of Easter egg hunts and shopping, and I took Maja to her first con.

My wife was most concerned that taking Maja to any con was unsafe due to the number of, let's just call them non-conformists, participating.  Of course, I've done this long enough to know the amount of time checking on your kids at a con is directly proportionate to the maturity of them.  Mepacon is also probably one of the most kid-friendly conventions in the country, so if I did want to run to my car, or talk to someone on the other side of the ballroom, I'm not spending every second worrying about her, just every other second.

This being the first time I took one of my kids to the con, I was happy to find out kids under 10 are free! That didn't mean it was slapping a badge on her and away we go.  The con does have the parents fill out and sign a liability waiver and general information sheet for the child, including your cell phone number in case something does happen.

I was scheduled to run my Samoa game using Contemptible Little Armies in the afternoon slot, but seeing that my friends and most of the minis guys weren't even in attendance, I surely doubted that would go off. Still, Maja and I brought in the terrain and figures and we went about finding stuff for a near five year old to do.

Even a small game of OGRE makes a big impression.
Maja had an action-packed day of Play Doh, miniatures painting, coloring, a game of Trouble, and some more coloring.  When something wasn't scheduled for kids we read from a our new book, a graphic novel covering some of the lesser known fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Erstwhile.  Not everything in it is completely kid-appropriate, but it kept her entertained.

As predicted, the Samoa game did not go off, but I did have four kids (Maja included) playing with the terrain and figures for an hour and a half.  I instituted a large scale version of my T.I.A.R.A, adding CLA's random movement as a major rule addition. The kids had a blast, gaming was executed, and most of the figures needed a touch from Cold Wars, so no major harm done to them.   After that was some more
coloring for Maja, as I kitbitzed about my birthday party with every interested person I could find.

The Battle for the Big House
A tired and hungry Maja made us go over to Damon's for dinner, and despite an empty restaurant, we had a 15-minute wait for table(?).  Needless to say, we scarfed down our food, and ran back to the hotel for the raffle.

For the few cons, the raffle has been weak and the auction overflowing with stuff.  The opposite was true this time.  Tons of quality hardcovers, boardgames, and even two copies of the 2013 Burning Plastic reprint were available.  Maja had her eye on a Egyptian scarcophagus, and Daddy's mission was clear... get the scarcophagus, increase my legend in my daughter's eye. 

Twenty dollars of tickets later, we won squat. 

The auction was rather tame, although there was heavy bidding on some "authentic" Egyptian souvenirs brought back from Egypt by one of the con-goers.  I didn't see the appeal, but it was all for charity at that time, so it didn't matter.

After the auction we snagged some t-shirts, which Maja promptly put over her other t-shirts.  No coat was required for the ride home.  Maja fell asleep before Scranton, and proceeded to sleep twelve straight hours.  A con is her most enjoyable kryptonite.

All-in-all, another great con pulled off by the staff, which lots of happy gamers, and some happy dealers as well.

SWAG:  I picked up a copy of Kobolds Ate My Baby! in Color and Radio City Knight.  Maja got THREE t-shirts, a d20 pin, and the above mentioned Erstwhile. We also discovered that our friend Gerry was friends with the woman who brought all the Egyptian paraphenalia to the con and that she had extra scarcophogi.  Maja got her mummy!

Maja with goldfish and KAMB.  What else do you need?
The most awesome moment of the con was when we found out that Maja had won the convention coloring contest.  A coloring book, a stuffed elephant, and a pack of cards later, she was incredibly happy and I was one proud papa.   She said she liked her "new friends" and wanted to come back next year!

Maja accepting her prize.
Oh, and a Lesson from Maja:  "Any dude dressed like Darth Vader is one scary dude to a little girl, no matter who it is."

Saturday, April 5, 2014

EMP Games' Nuns with Guns!

Sometimes, legitamate wacko stuff just happens to get released on April Fool's Day.  EMP Games in England did just that on Tuesday, announcing their real "Nuns with Guns" figures under their Twisted Horizons banner.  They're real alright!

Want your 40k army to look more Sisters of Sigmar than Sisters of Battle?  These are right for you!

Currently their about $13US for a pack of six "normal" nuns, or 4 heavy weapons.    Perfect for your Renegade Nuns on Wheels for your Macho Women with Guns game.  Or perhaps Illuminati University purchases a convent and some of the sisters double major in Theology and Weapons Development?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Leven Miniatures 6mm Canal Lock

I'm not normally one who looks at 6mm anything nowadays (1/285th scale, or Battletech scale).  Small children demand 25mm for durability and too avoid questions like "Who stole Daddy's regiment?" from occuring too often.

Leven Miniatures had announced the release of new 6mm ACW buildings, but the item that intrigued me the most was a re-release of a 6mm canal lock.

Call it local pride, growing up in Easton, one of the powerful hubs of canal transportation in the 19th Century, or maybe its the historian-in-training in me and my time working for the National Canal Museum (again, in Easton), but canals fascinate me.   So much so, that I involve one in half-written "Eastpoint" campaign for Gnome Wars.  Eastpoint is a very building heavy campaign, and a number of the scenarios focus on peculiar structures or sites and building everything was deemend too time-consuming and purchasing them outright way too expensive.  Perhaps we need a 6mm version of Gnome Wars (using Great War era figures) just so I can live out my wild gaming fantasies?  Who knows, it might be the only time you hear the words "Canal Pirate" in game!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Zombie Survivors From Studio Miniatures

I first mentioned Studio Miniatures when I was busy searching for potential minis for a Wizard of Oz game.  Their zombie survivors got an honorable mention for Dorothy's crew.

Now, it looks like they continue to skirt the domain of intellectual licenses with their next group of zombie survivors, Barca and the Boys:

The set is a bit pricey at just under $27 US, with shipping from Great Britain, but I pity the fool who doesn't look at them (and the rest of the survivors).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gnome Wars at Enfilade! 2014

I normally don't cover most cons away from the East Coast, but I have it on good authority that there will be gnomes at Enfilade! 2014,  May 23-25, 2014 (Memorial Day weekend) at the Red Lion Hotel Olympia in Olympia, WA.  Sponsored by the Northwest Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (NHMGS), this year's theme looks very similar to Cold Wars':  Obscure Theaters: Forgotten Battles and the Sideshows of War.

I don't have much to work on but it appears the Gnome Wars game might involve figures in a non-living state, and a tremendous amount of traveling on foot.

It's probably Highlanders :-p.

Check here for more info about the con.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NYC CoC #19: The Half Moon

June 2, 1924

Back in NYC, things had happily turned a bit mundane.   So much so, that the investigators had not met over the past 2 1/2 months, except for a few natural one-on-one meetings.

Jessica Carson, widowed female private eye, was still trying to deal with the influx of business.   A female detective who keeps secrets close to the vest was a popular commodity.  If only there was some way for her to get all those calls when she was on the street working a case.  A call from the editor's office of the New York Weekly Messenger to discretely search for a missing reporter was right up her alley.  Time to contact...

Det Frank Dresden.  He was curtailing his friendly duties with Jessica to focus on his professional ones, but missing persons cases always benefited with a little access from the NYPD.

They arrived at the Messenger's office and met with editor Erasmus Driggs.  Driggs was very worried that his star reporter, Sydney Silver, had not reported in for days and was feared missing.  He seemed worried not only for his employee, but the financial sake of the company.  "Almost" no price was too high to find him.  He provided the duo with a list of clippings based on his current assignments, including articles from other papers about "monsters" lurking around the sewers and business cards for Harlem establishments of ill repute.

Dr. Bob Wintermute, Professor of History at Miskatonic University was perturbed.  In the two short weeks since his assignment at Columbia ended, he had experienced not one, not two, but three incompetent sets of movers try to transport his things from his Manhattan apartment back to Arkham.  The last time the savages moved everything from his partially furnished apartment that WASN'T his. What he expected to occur, did.  This time the right items got onto the truck.  What he didn't expect was the phone in the apartment to ring, and his mentor at Brown, Dr. Alexander Powell, on the other line.

It seemed the years had flown by, and Alexander young son, William, who Bob remembered from numerous weekend dinners at the Powell home, had grown up, graduated Yale, and turned into some reporter under an assumed name for some New York tabloid rag.  He hadn't written in weeks, and wasn't answering his phone.  It was bad enough that William's uncle Leland, a member of the New York elite, had just perished in a boating accident off Long Island Sound, Williams disappearance would  be an tremendous stress to an already grieving family.   On top of that, he was supposed to be married this year, and he didn't want to break the news to his fiancee. If Bob wasn't already on the train going back to Arkham, could he possibly have one of his local contacts to try to ensure that William was safe.

Dr Wintermute decided to call Carson, and arrange a rendezvous at the Belvidere Club.  Of course Brian Nichols was the traditional way into the club when Nathaniel Millheim wasn't available and he'd normally scoot right over to reserve table, only today, he had an unexpected guest.  Mike Dalcin had returned from South Dakota and took Doc Millheim up on his offer of hospitality that he never thought would make due. Nichols assumed by hospitality that meant a blanket near the stove of the apartment, but first a trip to the Belvidere Club.

The Gentle Reader might now see the heavy handed approach I used to keep the group together "one more time."   William Syndey Powell, one of the heirs to the Powell fortune, decided to forgo his name to become an investigative journalists.  A few rounds of Manhattan Juleps were required to connect the dots.

The group went back into library mode, researching the man and making far more assumptions than discoveries.  Silver's writings were expanded versions of stories published in other papers, and written on such a level that few could believe that the writer had a degree from Yale.
Others researched psychological texts, trying to determine if Silver just snapped.  A credible mind in psychology like Doc Millheim was not available to dispute such assumptions without credible proof.  Then again, Doc Millheim was still hiding at a "spa" to exorcise his own demons.
With the help of  Dresden, they got into Silver's Brooklyn apartment, only to find it ransacked.  They did find an odd cypher on a newspaper article about a charity picnic and the passbook for Silver's savings account, with over a thousand dollars in it.
Part of the group continued their research into Silver's descent into madness they had concocted, another group travelled to the Peacock Club in Harlem to see what a few business cards in Silver's file meant.  Their lack of rhythm and dark pigmentation failed in their endeavour, although their money was certainly good, and the drinks in return not watered down.

While the rest are out researching/partying off appendages,  Jessica Carson figured out how to find Silver, and after a few calls first thing the next morning to the Messenger  and Silver's bank, she found him in a resort in the Rockaways.  He was a shell of his former self, so Jessica took the huddling wretch back to the office.  It was hours before the group recovered from their hangovers to meet up their.  Wintermute contacted Alexander Powell and Dalcin was used to guard Silver until family contacts could arrive and take him back to a safe place to recover.  Oddly enough, Alexander's brother Leland, a powerful man in New York business and politics, had been killed in a yachting accident only a few days prior, and the immediate family in the city had their hands full with that tragedy.

Nichols and Wintermute went back up to Harlem, under the assumption of doing more research, but Nichols had found an address to a certain JuJu House were he could obtain an "authentic" African dagger to use for the spell he had learned from Doc Millheim.  The encounter with the shopkeeper and the subsequent transaction went down smoothly, but as he exited the shop, he was accosted by a few bums in the alley.  Pulling out his resolver, the gun misfired, shooting off two of his fingers and leaving him barely conscious.  If not for the help of another vagrant, who pulled him from the scrum and ran out to the main street, Nichols would have surely been a dead man.  This guardian angel of hobo-dom turned out to be Japanese!  Maguro No Sarada did his best to staunch the bleeding and keep Nichols conscious.  For his help the Investigators kept him around.

Researching Silver's odder notes turned out to be much easier.  Frances Tavern had a few documents from the 17th Century detailing Henry Hudson's first encounter with Manhattan, a few members of the crew, reputed murders and ne'er do well hooligans, had jumped off the side of the Half-Moon and disappeared into the wilderness.  Another later text mentioned a strange Cult of the Half-Moon, but details as to its machinations were sketchy. 

One name came up that concerned the group:  Ambrose Mogens.  Mogens was a wealthy philanthropist and head of the Mogens Institute for Advanced Studies, and think tank trying to improve the human condition.  Many of the members of the group had actually met Mogens (and each other for the first time) at his own Christmas party!  Searches at the New York Public Library and the Hall of Records made things turn a bit darker.  The name of one of the persons who jumped the Half-Moon over three hundred years before?  Ambrose Mogens.  The name of one of the others?  A Vanderklei, who just happened to share the same last name as the current Mogen's Director of Science at the Institute.  Something was awry, but our intrepid group of investigators weren't quite sure what they were looking for.

Two uncoordinated trips to the Mogens Institute may have set off some concern.  At two times in the same day, two different gentlemen (one Dalcin, the other Sarada) posed as Doctor Nathaniel Millheim looking for either Mogens or Vanderklei.  Both times they were refused admittance.  Dalcin even went so far as trying to get it through a rear entrance, only to be met by security with shotguns!

The group decided the Mogens definitely had nefarious ideas, so it might be proper to investigate the Mogens Estate in Queens.  A late night drive and a long walk later, they arrived at the thick brick walls surrounding the spacious estate.

The Japanese hobo agreed to scale the wall and do some investigating.  Hiding in the bushes on the other side, he relayed to the group the scope of the grounds, as well as the the three security guards with dogs patrolling the estate at regular intervals.  Without any encouragement, he dashed across the open expanse unnoticed and reached the main building, only to get cold feet and run back to the wall without drawing attention.  Luck ran out for him when he could not climb the wall to get back with the rest of the group.  Falling back into the bushes caught the attention of the guard dog, and soon the hobo was detained.  The rest of the group fled in a panic. 

None of the investigators slept that night.  If Mogens had dealings with the unsavory, an untested ally in their hands who at least knew their names might doom them all.  If no Orientals were turned over to the police last night, the fate of their new friend was far more uncertain. 

Soon members of the group wanted to flee.  Others, such as Dalcin, wanted to recruit more hobos, arm them with baseball bats and sledgehammers, fill their gullets with cheap hooch, load them up onto a bus, drive said bus through the front gates of the Mogens Estate, and sneak in under cover of the ensuing chaos. 
I don't know what it says about the group that Operation: Hobo Justice stayed on the table for discussion far longer than it deserved. 
Cooler heads prevailed and a more "practical" plan was adopted.    The group would be dropped off near the rear of the estate.  Dresden would drive back to the gate with a large number of live rabbits they would procure and dump the rabbits on the other side of the gate.  Hopefully, this would distract all three dogs, with two dozen rabbits scurrying across the estate, allowing them to access the servant's entrance in the back.

By some miracle of fate, everything succeeded flawlessly.

They broke in through the back door, narrowly avoided an encounter with some inquisitive servants, and explored the first floor of the estate.  Most of the rooms fit with a New York philanthropist with a long family.  The library finally uncovered a few clues that somethings were just not right.  On Mogens desk were memos from the Institute documenting some terrifying experiements that may or may not be using human test subjects.
Two of Mogens' journals lay on the desk as well, although it seemed peculiar that his ancestor's journal from 1842 had identical writing to his most recent journal entry.  In the '24 journal, he claims that Leland Powell had been delivered to him and that, "his agony has become all the sweeter."

Finally, they uncovered a trap door hiding under the Oriental rug in the room.  After descending a dark stairwell, they came upon a locked steel door, with a smaller sliding door at its base.   Dr Wintermute slid the small door open, but beyond a blast of cold air and a rank smell, nothing could be observed.  He advised the group leave this area, ransack the library, and get whatever evidence they could before escaping, but when he stood up and turned around, a grotesque muscular arms shot out of the small door, grabbed his ankle, and tried to drag him in!   It took half the group to pull him away from whatever creature was on the other side, and Wintermute had already been pulled halfway through the door, rather painfully so. 

"I believe we found Leland," Wintermute said, "Let's not try to confirm it any further."

The investigators went back upstairs into the library, ransacked what they could of the library, but Dalcin wanted to leave a parting gift for Mogens.  He lit a Molotov cocktail, intent on incinerating whatever dark books they couldn't take themselves, but his career as an anarchist was short.  (He rolled a 100).  The Molotov slipped out of his hand and exploded around him, instantly engulfing him in flames.  The library quickly filled with flame and the other investigators were forced to flee for their lives. 

Dalcin was not a cross-dresser, but you get the point.
For the next two weeks, the papers were all abuzz with the torching of Ambrose Mogens' mansion, but no suspects were ever found.  Even more peculiar, no strange happenings had befallen a very paranoid group of investigators who were certain the "Warlock of New York" would be coming for them.

Apparently dead vagabond cooks and tortured Asian hobos tell no tales... for now.

This took awhile to compose, but I believe it was the first encounter they had with a powerful evil beyond the "monster of the month" variety for over two years.  Unlike the encounter with the Wideawakes and the Klan, Mogens was very much alive and very, very angry. 

The Japanese hobo's player, Aaron, also ran the ill-fated Turkish Librarian.  We'll see how his next character fares. *snicker*

Besides their compensations for their services, the investigators also got wedding invitations for the Powell wedding.

... on the Isle of Crete
Next Campaign Entry:  Some of the Investigators take a Mediterranean vacation while they attend a wedding and try to burn the roof off this mother in The Secret of Knossos.