Monday, August 31, 2015

Game a Day for September and 12 Days of New Gaming for Christmas!

With #RPGaDay2015 finally finished, it's on to bigger and better things.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll be pursuing a lofty goal in our chaotic household:  We'll be trying to play a different game each day for the entire month of September.  The only rule to qualify a "game" is that it must use some accessory beyond ourselves, like cards, playing pieces, dice, or even a whiteboard. 

With those criteria, a cutthroat game of War or Hearts is okay, but Rock, Paper, Scissors does not (although a family tournament using the Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock dice will in a pinch).  

Playing the same game on multiple days will obviously not count towards the goal, but will be extra fun nevertheless.   To qualify the one unique game, at least one member of the family needs to play it.  This way, if I'm stuck at work with overtime, my wife and kids can play something and it counts, or, if I'm visiting friends and strike up a game of Mordheim, the kids can play whatever they want.

I've also decided that, if this works, or even work halfway, I'll try out a 12 Days of Gaming over the holidays.  Toys and familial chaos need to be countered by something like this, a chance to sit around the table and do something as a family, before the next waves of presents.

Of course, Santa could just give us a big new pile of presents to fit that bill.

#RPGaDAY2015 Day #31 Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of Roleplaying

Another year, another #RPGaDay has been concluded.   Last year's inaugural run was chock full of poignant questions that just begged for a blog post.   This year's appeared to be reaching the stretching point, as a few questions elicited a lukewarm single word tweet answer.  I am interested in what year three might present itself, although a fourth year  might allow us to recycle the original topics and see how we all have progressed.

Traffic-wise, this project hasn't added any pageviews to my daily stats.    The #RPGaDay post combined with whatever normal blog post I've added are adding up to a usual result for a normal "non-event" post.  In fact, when compared to my #RPGaDay posts, which were done in December 2014, pageviews on each subsequent day have been decline, where December's fluctuated depending on topic.

Steve Jackson REALLY liked one of my posts last year.
Gripes aside, I do enjoy the activity and hope my antcipated increase in RPG playing in the next year who add or adjust stories I would currently list.

On that note, welcome to Day 31:  Favorite Non-RPG Thing to come Out of Roleplaying

Friendships?   Of the core group I see two of them usually once per year, and the other three I haven't seen in years.  Even in college, role-playing was one activity of many done with the group of friends, not the activity that created a group of friends?

No Dates...   Only one girl I dated could be labelled a role-playing geek, but I met her in the comics section.  Her geekiness was more directed towards comic books, cows, and beavers (don't ask).  The rest of the girls I've dated, and the one I married, have been quite mundane.

Weird Recognition?  Being dubbed the "Games Guru of the Lehigh Valley" in the mid-90s does not make me a target of TMZ.

A boy and another boy's Muppet can help him learn life skills..
Perhaps it must be the job I have today.  Indirectly at least.  My role-playing got me interested in Magic: the Gathering.  My knowledge of Magic netted me my job at New Frontiers in New Jersey, and Dreamscape Comics, the comic/game shop a mere two blocks from my house.  Or so I thought.  In reality 3/4 of my time would be spent managing the Bethlehem location, although I spent a week working the Easton shop solo during the blizzard of '96, all the other employees lived a block   The term "Assistant Manager" or "Branch Manager" wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but it was enough to get the Store Manager position at Griffon Games.   Years of "management experience", bookkeeping, organization, and a college degree netted me my first "real" job in the big bad bad world, and things have ebbed and flowed until I'm at where I am today, a solid office job that plans on exploding tomorrow in seasonal chaos. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day #30: Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity

Ah, the Famous Role-Player category, otherwise known as "Insert Vin Diesel or Wil Wheaton's name here."

I'm not falling down that rabbit hole with you like a bunch of lemmings, even though my wife has declared that if I can get Vin Diesel to game at the house, I can game whenever I want.

My choice is  Tim Duncan, power forward/center for the San Antonio Spurs


I know a good section of the gaming community knows little of anything "sportsball" related, which stems from the fact that some geek stereotypes about gym class are founded with a modicum of truth.   Tim Duncan is certainly not the most  recognizable player in the NBA.  He's not the flashiest on the court, but he's the epitome of what his team is...  Stats and dice don't lie, so here's his: 

  • NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
  • NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005)
  • NBA Most Valuable Player (20022003)
  • 15× NBA All-Star (1998, 20002011, 2013, 2015)
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)
  • 10× All-NBA First Team (19982005, 2007, 2013)
  • All-NBA Second Team (2006, 20082009)
  • All-NBA Third Team (2010, 2015)
  • NBA All-Defensive First Team (19992003, 2005, 20072008)
  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1998, 2004, 2006, 20092010, 2013, 2015)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1998)
  • ACC Player of the Year (1996–1997)

  • All this from a guy nicknamed "Mr Fundamental"  because those flashy moves are traded for sound, high percentage basketball play.  It's a different type of min/maxing.

    Oh yeah, he likes Ren Faires, collects knives, and plays Dungeons and Dragons.

    The dude's a geek, just a 6-foot 11-inch version of one.   Sure he's not pushing the "gamer" agenda, but in 17 years in a league full of Kobes, LeBrons, and plenty of wannabes grabbing the ESPN highlights and big stacks of cash, the selfless calculated play of Duncan and his teammates have netted five championships.   In three of those seasons he was the NBA Finals MVP, which, to put into gamerspeak, the dude's party slays dragons more often than other adventuring parties, and Duncan is considered the main reason the party succeeds.  He's the character who's tactically sound at all times, shares the glory and treasure of his fellow party members with nary a grumble, and rises to the occasion when called upon. 

    Saturday, August 29, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #29: Favorite RPG Website/Blog

    I visit a lot of websites and plenty of blogs, but most are focused on wargaming.  The blogs that do cover RPGs have largely dried up and disappeared over the years.

    I will give a shout-out Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog.  Mostly painting and wargames, but he has played a good deal of Savage Worlds with friends and family.  In fact, for awhile he kept up his second blog, Savage Timmy's Playhouse.

    www.rpg.net  -  the RPG section is as redundant as ever.  I do check out the Other Games and sometimes Media.    Questions and discussions are either always the same that they were two months ago, or they are so outrageous that it's not worth my time.  And their actively posting community used to be so liberal that it made my Marxist-sympathetic leanings look like feel support of the divine right of kings. 

    www.yog-sothoth.com - The go-to Call of Cthulhu site suffers like a min-version of rpg.net, without the political drivel.

    Interest in Enworld, Dragonsfoot, and the Kenzerco forums dried up years ago. 

    Podcasts:
    I mentioned Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff  and the Miskatonic University Podcast on an earlier listing.  I actively use KATAS for the show notes, and although smal, the MU Podcast Forums are congenial and informative.

    Skype of Cthulhu was a go-to podcast, but as the focus on most actual plays is Horror on the Orient Express, and I'd like to be surprised by that when I get to be an actual player, I've searched the back catalog for a few episodes, but not much else.  To be honest, I haven't even checked out the website, if one exists.

    The one new podcast I started listening to is the Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and their forums aren't too bad either.  They field a ton of listener feedback on their episode, and it's amusing to see that from fanzines, to BBS posts, to web forums, to podcasts,  most of the questions and stories have not changed since the first gaming session.  The advice given is usually 101% spot on (and the group discussion actively changes advice).  Sure the group is slogging through 5E right now, but their players have experience in everything from Vampire to GURPS to Champions to Exalted and seem like a fun bunch to be around, even without the on-mic drinking.

    Friday, August 28, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #28: Favorite Game You No Longer Play

    Those of you who have followed this all month for #RPGaDay now that I rarely get to role-play anymore, so I had a LOT of contenders for Favorite Game You No Longer Play. 

    For all the options it offers, all the crunchiness I crave, and all the prep time that no longer exists, I grant today to GURPS.

    I love GURPS.  The realism, the logic (even the logic and math of putting together a vehicle/robot/mecha). 

    We used to have numerous incarnations of GURPS Fantasy (hardcore and gritty, think Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, with the potential for less mud).    Horror seemed to work alright, and one of the greatest campaigns I ever played in used GURPS-Humanx.   Of course, I've numerously mentioned my "Napalm Death" multi-genre campaign, mixing Red Dawn, Mad Max, and whatever tickled my fancy.  

    GURPS fell out of favor with me by the late 90's.  Despite a healthy employee discount for all the awesome sourcebooks that were coming into the store, I just didn't have time to put something together that wasn't D&D.  The points-based systems were also the domain of socially inept ne'er do wells that I didn't wish to associate with.    By the time the 4th Edition hardbacks came out, most of my books had gone the way of con auctions or eBay. 

    The final nail in the coffin was at the same moment I planned on resurrecting the system.    After we wrapped up our long running Hackmaster campaign and a number of players (myself included) were leaving the area, we planned on doing a "fun" campaign by forum, e-mail, text, carrier pigeon, whatever worked.    Everyone immediately gravitated to Illuminati University, and I set about creating GURPS characters for their Freshthing.

    First was Hoyce.  What did he want to run?

    A talking ex-astronaut chimpanzee with a love of golf and tweed.

    While a 100-point version of Mr Bipp does exist somewhere, the problems with character creation with a man who was interested in the process did not bode well for the other players who were not system attuned.  We ended up turning things over to Risus, where it's served us well.

    If I want a gritty dark ages game, a special ops scenario, or some obscure historical game without Mythos I may turn to my 3rd Edition rulebook that I have left.  Maybe in a year or so I can set up Imperial Rome and gladiators for the girls.  But for now, GURPS lies dormant, sleeping.

    Thursday, August 27, 2015

    Lego Meets Waterloo

    When my wife tells me I spend too much time and money on my hobbies, I will direct her to this from Wargames Illustrated.
     
    Here's a recreation of Waterloo entirely done in Lego for Brickfest 2015 in Virginia.  There are over 2,100 Lego dudes slugging it out
     
     


    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #27 Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games Into One

    Day Number 27.  We're almost done. 

    Today's topic:  Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games Into One

    It's been a long time since I heard stories about people adding Traveller elements to D&D or Phoenix Command charts to a Vampire game.  Nowadays (and even back in the day), it was more popular to port a game setting into a universal engine, like Star Frontiers into GURPS, or Star Trek into Savage Worlds. 

    We're nearing a decade of the idea of  GURPS-IOU (Illuminati University) eschewing the crunchy portion of the game and running it using Risus: The Everything RPG. 


    GURPS can handle wacky and zany.  Plenty of their supplements offer those campaign styles and most of my early IOU games were using 3rd Edition.   But now IOU is relegated to picnics and impromptu gatherings.  Most of the games have been around an open fire, with only chairs, dice, plates, and a 3x5 cards full of cliches and stats.  Advantages, Disadvantages, and Quirks are simply more descriptive words on a particular cliche.   Enemies and Patrons are separate notes on the card, but the rest translates pretty well. 

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015

    One of My Men Became Restless: 28mm Brigade Games Haitian Zombies l & II

    One of the lines I'd like to get involved in is Brigade Games' Caribbean Empire.    The US Marines look great for any 20th Century Banana Wars game and the accessory sprues add a great deal of variety and personality to the game table. 

    One of My Men Became Restless: 28mm Brigade Games Haitian Zombies l & II: cover the Haitian zombies they make.  The minis look to be very clean, but with plenty of detail.  A great job overall.

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #26: Favorite Inspiration for Your Game

    Inspiration?  I'm not some 15-year old kid who just thought of a cool adventure based on a movie I just watched.  That kid has much more time....

    Even back in the early Cretaceous Era when I learned about gaming, Tolkien, Ivanhoe, and the art and charts from the 1st Edition DMG only got me so far.    I'm not a fantasy novel reader, so I can't steal from the ideas that the author stole for his book. 

    For last two Hackmaster campaigns, my biggest inspiration was the newspaper.   There was no better release of workday stress than grabbing a newspaper, heading out for an early breakfast, and converting the news stories of the day into fantasy equivalents.   Local news would go towards the barony or duchy, the state would be the kingdom.   Since my World of Georic's map was based off of the Epic of Aerth (a fantasy Earth), it was easy to plot world events in their appropriate spot.   US news, if I could use it, would represent a theme of the continent the PCs were on.    It certainly wasn't a perfect system, but it was enough for me to change current plot lines, or wildly adapt the "news" from the real world source to something completely outrageous.  I did turn the basic outline of Wrath of the Immortals storyline into a 9/11 inspired catastrophe that made the TSR material turn into sunshine and freakin' happiness. 

    Nowadays, my Cthulhu game needs no more inspiration.  Twenty sessions of material BEFORE launching Masks is enough to keep things interesting. 

    If there's anything on my big desk of GM ideas, it's the concept of the reverse dungeon with humans.  The concept of the reverse dungeon, players taking on the roles of the monsters defending the dungeon, is all fine and good, but I would rather use the exotic groups relegated to stereotypes that have graced the pages of some pretty famous modules than humanoid stereotypes turned up to eleven. 

    Two have been fleshed out, and when the mood strikes me, they get reopened for some additional development.

    "Home" -  The natives on the Isle of Dread have been around long before adventurers happen upon their island.  Their culture and mythology center around the defense of their peninsula and only the brave, the foolhardy, or the suicidal venture beyond the Gate of the Ancients.    The PCs are one of those three categories, and they advance from their original 0-level characters, they get involved in the politics of isolation, venture beyond the gates to engage in new civilizations, make new discoveries, and reverse the curses that have plagued the isle since time immemorial.

    But wait... who are these fair-skinned people on ships the size of a whale?   

    "Cynidecia"  -  B4: The Lost City is another classic module with tons of potential... in reverse.  I once ran a 12-player Hackmaster game at a convention where everyone were the half drug-addled citizens of the forgotten underground city of Cynidecia, and somehow, they managed to defeat the Zargon and save the civilization. 

    Or did they?

    Another 0-level start for this campaign, as the people of Cynidecia are just learning of the disappearance of the Priests of Zargon, and a shortage of the hallucinatory drugs creates a few heroes and a few crazed addicts, and most people can't tell the difference.   Like Home, I anticipate a few new characters will need to be introduced due to the lethal environment, but once the city-state calms into a state of civil war (you read that right), I see some epic potential that Howard would appreciate.

    Of course, what if the Zargon is just recuperating, waiting for it's return when the stars (what are stars?) are right?

     

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    The Australian Gnome Rangers

    Australia -  Random gnomings have occurred across some towns in Australia, and the Gnomish Underground is not happy about it, but not too unhappy to seek revenge. 


    link

    As a person who was introduced to Gnome Wars with a flurry of bad puns, I somehow completely missed the whole concept (and irony) of the Gnome Rangers, especially since I painted a unit of "true" rangers and decided to go the park ranger route. I may need to snag a few more Swiss for some new concepts.

    Travelocity has already over-commercialized the gnome, but it has been nice to see some non-sponsored gnome "hunting" events pop up in local communities around the world this Summer.  If the recent Aussie campaign is supporting local businesses, I would hope it's to fight the encroachment of larger chain stores, rather than blatant self promotion.
     

    (Kickstarter) MBA "The Town"

    I believe God is using September to tell me I should have remained a bachelor.    After a good deal of temptation from the Reaper Bones 3 campaign last month, September hits me with Golden Goblin's Tales of the Caribbean and Arc Dream's Delta Green RPG.  Now I'm slapped across the face with Miniature Building Authority's latest venture, The Town.


    No details quite yet, but I am in the market for some European/Fantasy style buildings.  Thank God overtime is kicking in next week.

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #25: Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

    I'm horribly behind the times.  I missed the umpteenth Small Press Revolution in Gaming of the early part of the century and just about every game I play was built from conceived notions from the 20th Century.

    My revolutionary concept isn't too ground breaking, but it is volatile: non-damage exploding dice.

    The argument for the 20-point kicker for hit points in Hackmaster was two-fold for me.  First, most other creatures had it and the critical hit charts resulted mandated it for mere survival.    Second was the concept of exploding damage: the idea that if you maxed out your damage roll, you rolled you d-1 again and added the result.  And if you rolled max on that roll, you rolled d-1 again, and so on, and so forth.

    Most players went gaga over that, but I was far more interested in exploding dice for character advancement, skills, etc.

    All dice for attribute improvements (on the percentile stats) could explode, any skill increase could explode, and heavens to Betsy if you're rolling an honor dice on top of it.

    There was plenty of cinematic fun with exploding dice in combat.  It was nice to see a company acknowledge some excitement on a more mundane facet of the character and the game. 

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    Apathy of the New Releases (Sep '15)

    Gen Con is over and gamers lay on their bean bag chairs, bloated with the glut of gaming purchased either at the con, or that has descended upon the FLGS. 

    So why is the games section of the latest Game Trade Magazine ten pages bigger than the last few
    months?
    1. Still alot of Gen Con releases that never made it to the big book (aka Scheduled to ship in August 2015 in a preorder book for September and beyond.
    2. Some publishers do make money at Gen Con (not many) and their planning on that funding their next project.
    3. Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming t'will soon be here!
    There's a dispportionate number of pages dedicated to Diamond Comics Distributors (parent company/older sibling to Alliance, the publisher of GTM).  This in and of itself is not a bad thing.  In the traditional comics/gaming hybrid store, a slew of DC/Marvel/Dr Who/Anything else licensed stuff is great.  What's not great for the few smart consumers who read GTM is that all of their items' pricing is listed as PI (Please Inquire).  The wholesale discounting is much less for these than any traditional items in the catalog.   You're not going to turn your store into a profitable version of Spencer's (anyone remember Spencers?) stocking heavily from the Diamond listing in GTM, or going directly through your Diamond account, if you have one.


    My Want List
    Griggling Games
    Santa's Bag (GGM 004)   ........................................................................................ $24.95
    I was so happy that I would get away with nothing on my want list, and then I took a second look at this and realized that not only did Travis Hanson do the art, but it's for ages 7+.   I may have trouble assembling games for my #30GamesaMonth, but perhaps next year I won't have the same issue.

    The Money-is-No-Object List

    The Imaginary Store List
    Alderac Entertainment Group
    Automobiles ............................................................................................................  $49.99
    Dice City  ................................................................................................................  $39.99
    Flock   ......................................................................................................................  $29.99
    We go from strange sounding Euro boardgames to fairly generic one or two-word names. 

    LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS CCG: EVIL PORTENTS BOOSTER
    LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS RPG:  ATLAS OF ROKUGAN .......................  $49.99


    Asmodee
    The Builders: Antiquity ...........................................................................................  $17.99
    Cash N' Guns:  More Cash N' Guns Expansion ......................................................  $29.99

    Atlas Games
    Ars Magica:  Lands of the Nile ................................................................................. $29.95
    Goodnight Azathoth .................................................................................................. $19.95

    Avalanch Press
    The Red God of War .................................................................................................. $34.99
    Second World War at Sea:  The Habsburg Fleet ........................................................ $39.99

    Burning Wheel
    Mouse Guard:  Swords and Strongholds ................................................................... $30.00

    Catalyst Game Labs
    Battletech Shadows of Faith PB ..............................................................................   $12.95
    Shadowrun: Hostile Takeover  ................................................................................   $59.95
    Shadowrun RPG: Corporate Book ..........................................................................   $44.99
    Shadowrun RPG:  Denver 3 ....................................................................................   $19.99
    Shadowrun RPG:  Seattle Boxed Set ......................................................................    $59.99
    Shadowrun RPG:  Sprawl Gangers, Core Rulebook ...............................................   $39.99

    Chaosium
    Call of Cthulhu Dark Ages 2nd Edition ..................................................................    $32.95
    I hesitate puttinng this on any personal list without watching the Chaosium drama unfold with the 7th Edition rulebooks. 

    Corvus Belli
    Ariadna Hardcases .................................................................................................... $11.58
    I've been on the record numerous times about my disdain for the pricing of Infinity figures.  This one still isn't worth the price, but it's an awesome figure.
     
    

    Cubicle 7
    Doctor Who RPG:  Silurian Age - Dinosaurs and Spaceships .................................  $34.99


    Diamond Comics Distributors
    Dungeons and Dragons:  Beholder Dice Bag ............................................................  PI


    Enterplay
    My Little Pony CCG:   2-Player Trainer Set ........................................................... $12.99
    My Little Pony CCG:  High Magic (Boosters and Starters)

    Evil Hat Productions
    FATE RPG:  War of Ashes - Fate of Agaptus Core Rules HC ................................ $35.00

    Exile Game Studio
    Hollow Earth Expedition ........................................................................................... $39.99

    Fantasy Flight Games
    Samurai ..................................................................................................................... $49.95
    Star Wars Imperial Assault Alliance Smuggler Ally Pack ....................................... $ 9.95
    Star Wars Imperial Assault  Bantha Rider Villan Pack ............................................ $19.95
    STAR WARS RPG: FORCE AND DESTINY KEEPING THE PEACE SB HC ... $29.95
    STAR WARS RPG: EDGE OF THE EMPIRE MAS OF THE PIRATE QUEEN .. $29.95

    Games Worskhop
    Retributor Armor Spray  ............................................................................................ $28.00
    What the hell is in a can of spray paint that can justify a $28.00 price tag? 

    Age of Sigmar Boxed Set .......................................................................................... $125.00
    Age of Sigmar Rule Book ......................................................................................... $ 74.00
    Not listing everything, but the portals they're listing as terrain are horribly overpriced versus any other terrain twice its size produced by any other company.  (Not that the average GW player knows how to use Google).   I don't what's worse, the Eternals basically being  fantasy Space Marines:

    Or that this figure is THIRTY THREE DOLLARS!

    It makes the 40k Eldar Windrider Battlehost for $160.00 look like a bargain!

    Space Marines: Dark Angels Codex ....................................................................... $58.00


    GMT Games
    Pax Romana, 2nd Edition ....................................................................................... $69.00
    The US Civil War ................................................................................................... $75.00
    Wilderness War: The French and Indian War ........................................................ $60.00

    Goodman Games
    DCC #67  Sailors on the Starless Sea .................................................................... $14.99
    DCC #84.1 The Rock Awakens ............................................................................. $ 9.99
    DCC #87.5  Grimtooth's Museum of Death ........................................................... $ 9.99
    DCC #88  The 998th Conclave of Wizards ........................................................... $19.99
    DCC #88.5 Curse of the Kingspire ........................................................................ $ 9.99
    Fifth Edition Fantasy #6 Raiders of the Lost Oasis ............................................... $ 9.99
    Fifth Edition Fantasy #7 Fantastic Encounters ...................................................... $ 9.99
    Gen Con 2015 2015 Program Guide ...................................................................... $30.00

    Greenbrier Games
    Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale - Core Game ................................................. $64.95
    I believe this is the game my friend Steve dove into the Kickstarter for, and has only received stretch goals for (the awesome minis). 

    Green Ronin Publishing
    Fantasy Age Basic Rule Book ................................................................................. $29.95
    Fantasy Age:  Titansgrave - The Ashes of Valkana ................................................ $24.95
    Titansgrave, the new focus of Wil Wheaton's projects on Geek and Sundry.  Color me unimpressed, but some follower will run into the store, see the book on the shelf, and scream, "IT MUST BE MINE!"  Not nearly as excited searching through Amazon. 

    Kherpera Publishing
    Atlantis: The Second Age RPG:  City Guide ........................................................... $20.95

    Konami Digital Entertainment
    Yu-Gi-Oh!  High Speed Riders Boosters

    Osprey Publishing
    Bolt Action:  Empires in Flames .............................................................................. $29.95
    Bug Hunts ................................................................................................................. $17.95
    The Cthulhu Wars - The United States' Battles Against the Mytos .......................... $18.95
    Same book listed a few months ago, just with a pushed back release date.
    Frostgrave:  Thaw of the Lich Lord .......................................................................... $17.95
    Honours of War - Wargame Rules for the Seven Years War ................................... $17.95
    Rhodesian Light Infantryman 1961-1980 ................................................................. $18.95

    Paizo Publishing
    PATHFINDER ADVENTURE CARD GAME: BARBARIAN CLASS DECK ....  $19.99PATHFINDER: BESTIARY 5 HC ..........................................................................  $44.99
    PATHFINDER AP: HELL’S REBELS 4 -A SONG OF SILVER ........................... $29.99
    PATHFINDER CAMPAIGN SETTING:  OCCULT REALMS .............................. $22.99
    PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION: WEAPON MASTER’S HB .................. $14.99
    PATHFINDER FLIP-MAT: WINTER FOREST ...................................................... $14.99

    Pelgrane Press
    Trail of Cthulhu:  Cthulhu Apocalypse HC ................................................................ $34.95

    Pinnacle Entertainment
    SAVAGE WORLDS RPG: KAISER’S GATE .......................................................... $29.95
    SAVAGE WORLDS RPG: NEMEZIS - GALAXY .................................................. $19.99
    SAVAGE WORLDS RPG:  THE LAST PARSEC - CORE BOOK HC ................... $24.99
    SAVAGE WORLDS RPG:  THE SIXTH GUN RPG LTD ED HC  ......................... $24.99
    SAVAGE WORLDS RPG:  THE SIXTH GUN GM SCREEN ................................. $19.99
    SAVAGE WORLDS RPG:  THIN BLUE LINE - A DETROIT POLICE STORY ... $40.00 As if working in Detroit isn't bad enough, working as a cop in paranormal Detroit?  At least all those empty houses can be put to good use.

    Posthuman Studios
    Eclipse Phase RPG:  Firewall HC ................................................................................ $44.99

    Rogue Games
    Colonial Gothic:  Lovecraft .......................................................................................... $24.99

    Sasquatch Game Studio
    Dungeons and Dragons RPG:  Primeval Thule Campaign Setting ............................... $49.95

    Steve Jackson Games
    Munchkin: Christmas Lite ............................................................. $9.95
    Munchkin: Kittens Blister Pack ..................................................... $9.95
    Munchkin: Zombies Deluxe ........................................................... $29.95
    Munchkin: Cosmic Demo Blister Pack .......................................... $5.95
    Star Munchkin: Space Ships Blister Pack ...................................... $4.95

    Studio 2 Publishing
    Savage Worlds RPG: Lakhmar City of Thieves Ltd Edition ....................................... $24.99
    Savage Worlds RPG: Lakhmar: Foes of Nehwon ........................................................ $24.99
    Savage Worlds RPG: Lakhmar GM Screen  With Adventure ...................................... $19.99
    Savage Worlds RPG: Terran Trade Authority The Proxima War ................................ $34.95
    Savage Worlds RPG:  The Last Parsec Eris Beta-V ..................................................... $19.99
    Savage Worlds RPG:  The Last Parsec Levithan .......................................................... $19.99
    Savage Worlds RPG:  The Last Parsec Scientroium ..................................................... $19.99

    Twilight Creations
    Zombies!!! #14:  Space Bites! ....................................................................................... $15.99

    Warlord Games
    Bolt Action Germany Strikes .........................................  PI
    Beyond the Gates of Antares HC Rulebook .................... PI
    Strike Vector One:  The Xilos Horizon - Starter Set ....... PI
    You know what grinds my gears more than Games Workshop prices or even no prices listed?  No prices listed on a brand new game.  40K could disappear off the face of the Earth, and I still wouldn't order anything for the store.  We would move over to all Mantic instead.  In the hypothetical universe the store resides in, it's one option we probably have done already.

    Wizkids
    Pathfinder Battles:  Iconic Heroes Box Set 4 .............................................................. $34.99
    Pathfinder Battles:  Iconic Heroes Box Set 5 .............................................................. $34.99

    Worthington Games
    Galaxy Command ......................................................................................................... $14.00
    Trenton 1776 ................................................................................................................. $26.00

    Wyrd Miniatures
    MALIFAUX: 2ND  EDITION STARTER SET ................................... $65.00
    SHIFTING LOYALTIES ...................................................................... $45.00
    ARCANISTS KAERIS CREW BURNING REVELATION ................ $45.00
    GENERALIST UPGRADE DECK ....................................................... $18.00
    NEVERBORN WICKED DOLL .......................................................... $18.00
    SHIFTING LOYALTIES CAMPAIGN DECK .................................... $18.00 

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #24: Favorite House Rule

    After you've gamed as long as I have, you tend to forget what are the actual rules of some games versus house rules by committee versus rulings you made up on the fly and they've stuck around ever since.

    I've got one true house rule for any game I run: Heroes always win initiative ties.

    I don't give my players any quarter regarding to-hit rolls and damage, but I will give them the upper hand in initiative if all other factors are equal.  That way I don't need to reference the specific rulebook and I don't have to control the effects of simultaneous combat.  Players are usually savvy enough to seize the initiative and make their actions dictate the pace of the encounter.  Of course, if they fail to do so, the GM shall provide no mercy whatsoever.  

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #23: Perfect Game for You

    Perfect Game pour moi?  Any one with enough players to get stuff done.  Seriously.

    In fact, the "dream game" might be happening, and sooner than later.

    I have a bunch of draft posts saved up as placeholders for the stories of The Burning Trogs, the PC's adventuring company in my Hackmaster campaign in Georic.  Nothing more than a title, I'll use the campaign journal to fill in the details, and add more entries, if time and space require them.  I have one of those posts finished, and temporarily scheduled for September, 2045:  The Epilogue.  I may get them all done by then.

    Once I get closer to finishing the entries, I will go back through the post and edit any of my thoughts, but they will always boil down to this:  *spoilers* The Trogs have unfinished business with the Slavers of Roark and no matter how rich and powerful they have gotten, revenge against the slavers for what they did to their compatriots will always be paramount.

    We're never going to get the band completely back together.  First off, two of the players went through a nasty divorce, so I would not force them to play with each other.  I may invite my male friend's new wife to the group, but that can be awkward as well.  Another power couple is now five hours away, and will be making a marathon weekend just to see our house and hit a wine festival with us. Gaming isn't a high priority.

    The final piece of the puzzle is my friend Hoyce, who ran the leader of the group, legendary Gnome Titan Zorin Redrock.   Hoyce disappeared up to Boston right after my campaign wrapped up.  He is the one piece of the puzzle that has to be there for the game to work.  He's been searching for the slavers for ten years without getting a clue as to where they are.

    But earlier this month I discovered Hoyce and his wife Katie are moving back to Northeast PA, this weekend.  After claiming dibs on him for Cthulhu, I made the realization:

    Zorin has returned to put the band back together.  He must of found something.



    My perfect game is beginning to fall into place.  All I need is a little more time...

    Saturday, August 22, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #22: Perfect Gaming Environment

    Day 22:  Perfect Gaming Environment?   Is there such a Double Rainbow Flying Pyro-Unicorn of Doom?  Not really.  I've gamed in basements, on living room couches, in cabins in the woods.  The experience is what you make of it.

    What would I prefer?  Common, decent courtesy:  No distractions, no phones post-start, all food ordering is done to start the session.  Food/snacks on hand, in bowls with replacements nearby.

    Come to think of it, I don't need some dedicated gaming man-cave to conduct my endeavors, although an old fashioned oversized pool table, circa 1910, with a removable and waterproof cover, would be spectacular.  It would allow for short, low-backed stools that would force the players to sit up straight and pay attention.   Okay maybe a well-stocked bar nearby for the occasional libation.

    Friday, August 21, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #21: Favorite RPG Setting

    Sure, I love 20's Cthulhu.  I love the random organized chaos of Illuminati University.  I love a lot of settings, but my true love is still my first:  The World of Georic.

    Georic started before I even played an organized game of D&D.  I was fiddling with characters and stories, and developed a lineage for the Bloodblade Clan, warrior-kings building a future out of the fallen Ferasean Empire.   Mix in the proper dose of sibling murder, coup d'etats, and god-like power and I had a nice background to run my first AD&D game, The Temple of Elemental Evil. My buddy George and I tried to develop a more specific map of the world we were playing in, hence Georic (George+Eric).

    We waddled through whatever cool modules I could find, or Dungeon mags with the right level adventures.  Temple of Elemental Evil moved to Shadowdale, which moved to a pirate lair, then a flurry of other adventures, and finally we petered out of high school with the Giants series.

    Upon my return from Basic/AIT and my tart as a weekend warrior, I assembled a new group of players from my Reserve unit with some of the old guard, and we rekindled a more compact, focused Georic.  While it had a Known World shape to it, the campaign focused on the tiny village of Eding and it's surroundings.   As the group travelled to larger towns, I slowly developed each one, ultimately reaching the capital city, and just enough glory for the PCs.

    A bit later, when I was in college I finally put together a map, using the random wilderness tables from the 1st Edition DMG.  Not wasting money on colored pencils and hex paper, I used crayons and the backs of WhatCon? posters for the two main halves of the Kingdom of Crosedes.

    The Western Half of Crosedes:  Gnomes and Frickin' Rowand City

    The Eastern Half of Crosedes  Eding in the Top Center
    I gave simple boundaries that were rarely tested.  To the east was swampland and then the ocean.  To the north were the Nordic barbarians of Wyrmnal To the south was the decrepit kingdom of Feraso, and the west were young kingdoms acting as a buffer for the threatening barbarians of Galmar.   Further to the northwest were the mages of Emron, where my fellow DM, The Other White Nate (TOWN) ran his Friday night game to my Saturday night game. 

    When Hackmaster finally rolled around, I said screw it.   Like most world-builders I was stealing directly from Earth history and culture, so I might as well use Earth for my map.

    Enter Epic of Aerth  for Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys RPG.   A fantasy world based on Earth, with just a few civilizations slapped on (Atlantis and Mu or Lemuria, I believe).  It took a weekend, but all my notes on Georic were shoehorned into Aerth, and we continued on like nothing ever happened.
    Crosedes (#1) earned a few more neighbors.  The remains of Senzar (Atlantis) are just beyond the western edge of the map. 
    Everybody wanted Arthurian legend?  Lygresse it is.  Master of the Desert Nomads?   He can invade from Parthia (#47) and Yarbay (below #48) and attack the crumbling Barthey Empire (#30) and their satellite states?  Emron had a capital with canals?  Italy (Ispatlia) is now the realm of the wizard!

    The first half of the campaign explored the halfling lands of Alois, modern-day Ancient Egyptians of Khemmet, and the changes that took place in Crosedes sixty years after the Apotheosis Apocalypse. I pictured this land to be a more desolate version of my previous campaigns, inspired by the tired old adventurers talking at the end of the previous campaign.

    Once they felt they had explored as much of Crosedes as they needed before looking for more fame and fortune, the group suffered an "active"  TPK and I switched gears over to Karameik, err.... Marakeikos (original ain't I?)  In fact, it didn't matter what I called it,because only one of the players had ever played in Karameikos before.

    It was a fun, sandbox paradise of potential, the save the Duke of Celsior (not Kelvin), explored the western humanoid lands of Milosic (and set off the invasion of the Western Orc League, but don't tell the king that.)   By the time the campaign wrapped up, the country was it's own distinct creation, save the rival ethnic groups.  We wargamed on a map of Europe for Red Arrow/Black Shield, we set the buildings of Emron City (Venice) ablaze, but they could never find the Slavers of Roark on the Mer Nor to avenge the kidnapping and deaths of their friends.

    One fun thing I used to do to keep Georic a dynamic, active world was to mix in fantasy equivalents of real world problems   While I had started with the Poor Wizard Almanacs to set up a world timelines and popped things in while appropriate, I would also read the daily paper and assign more news.  Local news affected the community they were focused on at the time, State news the Kingdom, National news affected the continent (California news affected the Portugal), and, of course, world news affected the appropriate region of the globe.   Yes, I used a 9/11 style disaster PLUS the destruction of Alphatia on an entire Senzar-Emron Mage War that further sank the Senzar territories and essentially nuked half of the pleasant halfling agriculture of the Almond Coast, setting off even further destruction and famine.  Outside of their trip to a fiery Emron City, the PCs rarely encountered that storyline, but most appreciated the ongoing they heard in tales and rumors.

    If I had the time and the ability to call the band back together (or a competent group of new players), I would break out Georic in a heartbeat.  It's not flashy, but it's everything I need in a world to run a campaign, and most of my old players would agree.

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #20: Favorite Horror RPG

    Favorite Horror RPG?  Hands down, Call of Cthulhu pre-7th Edition.

    Certain horror games evoke about as much horror as a boss monster in a video game or fantasy RPG: A little bit of worry and dread. and a lot of traditional combat.

    CoC can easily slide down that path, but you're more likely to traipse gently, losing small batches of sanity along the way, and compile something to combat the big bad, but you won't know if it will work until you get there.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Miniature Stand-Ups Using Munchkin Oz?

    For years now I've been looking into a miniatures game version of the Wizard of Oz, as well as the the other Baum books. I've made a few forays into potential minis he (See here for Wizards of Oz related posts), but I've come upon one major problem for a number of the exotic creatures.

    There's simply not a suitably mini for many of them.

    I attempt to resolve this by suggesting using 2-D cardboard stand-ups using some of the art in the books that I hope is public domain (I don't believe they're going to knock down your doors if you use the artwork for personal use). Hammerheads, flocks of jackdaws, and an irascible Gump would work great in that regard.

    Now, you could also by a copy of Munchin Oz at Target and use some of the awesome cards as standups.

    Munchkin artist John Kovalic tweeted a few pics of the games, and the fact that the game covers more than just Wizard of Oz makes me smile profusely.
    
    From @muskrat_john on Twitter
    It might be smart to get two copies, one to play and one to cut out as stand-ups.

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #19: Favorite Supers RPG

    I've played a wee bit Marvel, a dash of DC Heroes, and absolutely no Champions, but I'll give Villans and Vigilantes a nod as my favorite Supers RPG.

    It's co-written by Jeff Dee (more of TWERPS for me) and it's model of superpowers worked well to build a world, unlike Marvel and DC, where you were trying to cram a system to match the world.

     

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #18: Favorite Sci-Fi RPG

    Sci-Fi has never been a go-to game for me.  Sure, I've done d6 Star Wars plenty of times, various incarnations of Star Trek, Traveller, Rifts, Battlelords of the 23rd Century, and a memorable GURPS-Humanx game, but nothing meets the gonzo absurdity of Gamma World.
    There's no good pictures of the 4th Edition book online... so here's GWA1
    Take a post-apocalyptic world where nuclear war decimated everything, but left civilization back in the bronze age, perhaps early medieval era.  "Purestrain" humans live alongside mutated humans, sentient mutated animals, and even mutant plants!  Hilarity ensues as they discover lost technologies of the ancients.    

    We played 4th Edition Gamma World, which, thankfully, didn't have the massive crunch (and bad editing) of the previous editions.  4th Edition was the first TSR game where I remember the better the armor class, the higher the number.    My character, Prego of Lyon, was a mutated human with photosynthetic skin, a lion's mane, and a prehensile tail.  We went through a little sandboxing, the 4th Edition module, The Mutant Master, and the classic adventure Famine in Far-Go.

    A copy of the rules has floated in and out of my collection many times over the years, but I just can't find a group interested in it.  Cthulhu, Hackmaster, and cross-genre college students are weird enough, apparently.

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    A Wooly and Wild Weekend

    Another weekend, another crazy schedule without gaming.

    My buddy Wooly and his wife finally drove from Johnstown with their two pugs to see our house.

    Of course, they also brought the first significant heat wave of the Summer, and with my girls generating tons of heat with their enthusiasm, the AC was none too happy being forced to work for once. 

    After acclimating our respective dogs, and dropping the kids off at Grandma's off we went for dinner.   Arena Bar & Grill in Wilkes-Barre has had some horrendous service in the past, but I've never had a bad meal there, and their beer selection strives to be top-notch. 

    This time, we were blessed by a friendly, knowledgeable, and punctual waitress named Ivy, who helped navigate our out of town friends through the beer menu, ran samples back and forth for them, and got us our food lickety-split.  I can safely say their burgers are above and beyond most restaurants, chain and local, and their actual dinners were enough to feed two.

    On the beer front, I finally succumbed to peer pressure and ordered a Not Your Dad's Root Beer.  It is indeed as good as advertised, although the sheer sweetness of it would limit me to two tops.   My wife ordered her own, and we prayed for snow to break the heat wave, since she liked it as well, and we NEVER agree on anything alcoholic.    I also snagged an Ayinger Celebrator, which was a nice German Bock.

    Fun fact: Wooly hasn't gamed since he moved out to Johnstown twelve years ago.    He had finally decided to break down an attend a local sci-fi convention in nearby Altoona, to search for gamers.   Most of dinner was him trying to explain the convention by every square inch, which sounded like any local geek fest.  Comics, toys, miscellany, KITT from Knight Rider, the Mystery Machine, and Virgil from the WWF with a swap meet mentality from everyone else, sounds like an acceptable place to dress up in costume.   Gaming on the other hand...

    After dinner, we went for ice cream, and it was my turn to explain to Wooly the entire concept which is Kickstarter, including how our mutual friend Steve is in over his head with pledges. 

    With time to kill before we needed to pick up the kids, we ventured over to Emerald Vales Games (website is getting upgraded this week, if past 8/24/2015, they're just lazy).   The place was jumping with two role-playing games going on, Infinity, Heroclix, some Magic, and the Bloodbowl League All-Star game going on all at the same time, with only a minor roar of the crowd, and no smell whatsover.  Bravo!  If my nostalgia about prices and figures are skewed, Wooly is a Rip Van Winkle of gaming, walking into the Games Workshop section with some interest and walking out completely aghast. 

    Me:  "They want $45.00 for these ten figures."
    Wooly:  "But at least they're metal minis..."
    Me:  "Nope, all plastic."
    Wooly:  *sheer look of terror*

    We struck up a conversation with a nice guy who hadn't been born when Wooly and I played our last game of 40k together and departed with no product, and only some regret.  The womenfolk were only slightly scared.

    ****GROWN-UP SECTION****
    With our wives shnookered up by alcohol and ice cream, we ventured over the bridge to the local adult book store, which I believe was the first group visit to such a place since the infamous Origins '96 drive back from Ohio.     Even with the warning above, I won't go into detail, but, as a gamer, I will say that they had a LOT of different dice, just not the ones I would see at the FLGS.   Also, please be advised that the "Role-Playing" section doesn't include the Complete Paladin's Handbook.
    ****END OF GROWN-UP SECTION****

    Kids were soon picked up, more alcohol imbibed at home (Troegs Double Bock is a mediocre Bock at best, but the alcohol content floored me).  No games were attempted, alas.

    On Sunday, we added our friend Don to the mix, and we hit a local pub for lunch... and more beer.  It was an IPA-palooza blowout and most were good.  Except Magic Hat IPA Grapefruit.  Never add grapefruit to any sort of beer.

    By mid-afternoon Wooly was ready to head back out to western PA, and confided in me only one thing, "Next time, we'll have to roll some dice."

    Challenge accepted.

    Throw in the kids cover in poison ivy and a leaky shower faucet that I can't fix (the recessed nut in the tile wall will not budge with the appropriate shower wrench), it was an exhausting week.   I'm not even getting the discussion of the 10-12 day cruise the wives were organizing for 2017 with five or six cabins worth of people.

    I'd rather get us all together again for Cold Wars.

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

    Despite years of playing D&D, and even answering last year's question "What RPG to you anticipate playing in 20 years?" with AD&D 2nd Edition, my favorite Fantasy RPG is Hackmaster 4th Edition.

    Sure, there's a slew of people who can't get past the satirical portions (I think many of them are the same people who don't find Knights of the Dinner Table funny being role-playing is serious.   Truth be told I loved 95% of the silly elements of the game, discarded the other 5% as unnecessary for my game,and love all the sub-systems included.  

    I revelled in a game that pixie-faeries, gnomeling, and half-ogres were all viable races.   I loved the fact that hidden in the GM vs the players  ranting, there's the old adage, "Anything the players can do, the GameMaster can do... better," which, if done right should dissuade the munchkins and power gamers and set things at a level both parties can agree upon.

    I love the random quirks and flaws charts.  I love the honor system.   I adore the d10,000 critical hit tables (and a much smaller critical fumble one).

    I treasure the fact that my three year weekly Hackmaster campaign (with extra episodes added in for some solo play) only had one TPK and used Basic D&D, 1st Edition AD&D, 2nd Edition AD&D, 3rd Edition D&D, Judges Guild, AEG, Dangerous Journeys, and Grenadier modules, along with the official HM adventures.

    I miss it terribly, and if I can get the band back together for at least four hours, I'd pull out the monster Hackmaster GM Screen, unvelcro the flaps of the Critical Hit tables, get the Burning Trogs some revenge on a certain bunch of slavers.

    Those poor slavers haven't got a chance in Hades.

    Sunday, August 16, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #16: Longest Game Session Played

    I've never been one for Ironman D&D.  For a game that requires critical thinking and tactics, the idea of Mountain Dew and Cheeto-induced sleep deprivation is not appealing in the least.  DnD Army Game. 

    My longest role-playing session goes back twenty years to what I've simply labelled, the "Army" game.

    I had launched another 2nd Edition AD&D game using my campaign world of Georic.  Half of the players I had plucked out of my Reserve unit and the other half were the old reliables from high school.  Everyone got along swimmingly, due tot the combined hatred of Dalcin's annoying but competent elf cleric/bodybuilder Markus.   A few of my Army friends had wives and families but since we normally wrapped up by 9:30/10pm, they were asleep by the time they got home.

    One night, and only one night, everyone realized that we were all off the next day (We gamed on Wednesday nights, not a small task.)   Thus the challenge was laid down, with a quick run for late-night pizza and soda and some calls to some wives to avoid immediate divorce proceedings, we began gaming. 

    We started at 6pm, and by 4am, I was the lone survivor, passing out blankets to gamers who fell unconscious on the stairs.    I can't even tell you what happened that session. 

    It was awesome, but I'm quite happy with my 3-5 hour session within normal waking hours.

    Saturday, August 15, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #15: Longest Campaign Played

    Although  I've played dozens of different RPGs, there have only been a few that can be categorized beyond a one-shot or "mini-campaign" completing the storylines the GM wanted to tell.

    I'm going to get picky with a vague topic of "Longest Campaign Played."  Sessions?  Hours?  Game years?  Real years?

    Sessions?    During our Senior year, my friends in high school, Scott and Charles, would go to Scott's house everyday for lunch and played D&D.  I do not complain that I wasn't invited because it was D&D Masters level epic fighting by the end of the year, and that's not my style.  With everything else, they put in at least 125 sessions of this game, an hour at a time.

    Compare that to my Second Edition AD&D "Georic game run from 1990-1992.  There were at least twenty sessions alone when we went through the Temple of Elemental Evil, and those were four hours apiece and lasted half the summer.  Still, with high school and jobs and other social life, I think if I put 100 of sessions down, I'd be generous. Only one character reached "Name" (9th+) level. Gaming is truly wasted on the young...

    Longest Campaign by Sessions?  Hackmaster: September 2001 to May 2004: A weekly game with some one-on-one sessions to offset the holiday downtime.  I estimate about 120 sessions. One TPK and the realized threat of another kept the levels lower than expected.  I believe Gwen, the party druid, reached 10th level.

    Longest Campaign by Real-Time?  That goes to Call of Cthulhu, hands down.  After a later Hackmaster campaign resulted in a TPK, and the current group dropping to three players (and me), I switched gears and busted out a CoC Avatar game (everyone plays a 1920's version of themselves). That was April 26, 2008 and it's still going strong.   Sure, we only have 29 sessions but it is the same campaign for seven years real-time, and four and a half years game time.  One character is still alive from session 1, and the other survivor of that first game recently went insane and jumped out of a second story window, only to survive and run through the streets of SoHo in the rain.

    If and when we finish Masks, we may put this game on hold to let "Dr Bob" run the updated Horror on the Orient Express with different characters, but it will be back.

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #14: Favorite RPG Accessory

    Outside of binder clips, index cards, and dice, I rarely need anything more than a rulebook or two. The last vestige of an era where we used dice towers, battlemats, and erasable markers is my Gamma World Referee's Screen


    I just wrote about this in May, so I've attached the link here a few extra details. 

    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    (Kickstarter) Iron Mask Miniatures Mounted Dwarf Musketeers

    While I'm always on the lookout for some interesting dwarf characters that might slide into Gnome Wars, I haven't looked under every rock, and by rock, I mean Kickstarters that promised to deliver product before I even ventured onto the website. 

    Iron Mask Miniatures had run a successful Kickstarter Dwarf Musketeers, with promise to deliver.  With all demands met, they have launched their second campaign, Mounted Dwarf Musketeers.

     
    A $45 pledge (US S&H included!) will net you one of the sets of four mounted musketeers.   For $65, you get a set of mounted, one of the four packs of musketeers on foot (the matching foot versions of the mounted are available, if you're so inclined) and you would be eligible for the stretch goals. 

    One of the stretch goals is the Dwarf Cardinal on Horseback.    Much to my surprise a "Red Count" of France is available to fill in my gnomish history lesson, but at $7.25 for a figure, I may need to lessen my personal lead pile before venturing into this one...
    "Cardinal..."        "Cardinal..."
    They do have a nice variety of character/civilian figures that fetch the same price as the Cardinal.  
    More pictures are available on their http://ironmaskminiatures.blogspot.com/

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #13: Favorite RPG Podcast

    While I could give you a good pile of bad podcasts to avoid, to find a good podcast that's still going strong is the whole needle in a haystack routine.

    I really wanted to say The Miskatonic University Podcast, but between overviews of  chapter from Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, and absences of the majority of hosts in recent weeks, I don't have that Christmas morning feel on Sunday waiting for the bi-weekly episode to hit.

    While I could have easily imagine the MU Podcast getting the nod for this a few months ago, the reverse is true for my actual choice,  Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff


    For your average "There's something other than D&D?" gamer,  I would categorize KARTABS as hipster gaming intelligentsia.  Those people will get absolutely bored by the obscure topics, segments on used book finds, and plugs for products that aren't owned by TSR Wizards.

    Truth be told, I try to be part of the world gamer group, and even I was thrown aback by the breadth of subject material used in the same podcast.   Some episodes have forced me to do additional research to understand the topics discussed, and that I hope has made me not only a better GM, but a more worldly person as well.  

    After a rather long ad from their main sponsor, Atlas Games, they go through a variety of segments and "huts."  Between the Cinema hut, the gaming hut, Ken's Time Machine, Ask Ken & Robin, the Consulting Occultist, and a slew of others, there's a great variety topics, both historical and fictional, and usually a way of implementing them into a gaming structure.  

    Sure, some they may harp on some material that doesn't interest me (Dreamhounds of Paris, Feng Shui), but many of the times they have some sort of personal stake in the product being discussed. 

    If you're going to try them, give them at least a good month's worth.  You'll probably glean something useful from them, even if they aren't your taste.  
     
    And then they have you in their grasp.... FOREVER!!!!
     

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #12: Favorite RPG Illustration

    Another confession:  I'm not a well-read geek.    No Hitchhikers Guide, no Lord of the Rings, no Narnia even.  I faked my way through every nerd trope and fantasy reference in the game store/group/message board.

    Without that library of knowledge as my base (or base assumption), I needed visual references and stimuli to help me run games.

    I relied heavily on whatever few illustrations were in the books and modules I could get my grubby little hands on.

    Best Cover?  X11:  Saga of the Shadow Lord, by far.  It's also the best bait and switch in my opinion, because the module read nothing as awesome as the cover. 
    
     
    The other illustration that kickstarted my imagination was Dragon Magazine #136, the first issue I ever bought.  
    This is during a period of when the quality of the covers was as random as the quality of the material inside.  Issues #136 and #137 had awesome covers and great articles (building cities and wilderness exploration, respectively.)  Some of the other issues had amateurish art and articles, and I'm not talking about the April Fools issue.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    #RPGaDAY2015 Day #11: Favorite RPG Writer

    My "mundane" library at home has many books on specific subjects, but it's very rare to find many books by the same author.  I have an interesting collection of Anton Chekhov anthologies, and a decent library of George Kennan books, and partial set of Theodore Roosevelt books, but the rest have been written by a varied assortment of authors.

    When it comes to gaming, I'm not an author groupie.  I don't care if Steve Jackson wrote the book, I care that it was being released by Steve Jackson games.

    My current gaming library is an eclectic mess of nostalgia, potential awesome and a few pipe dreams.

    Ken Hite?  Robin D Laws?  Jonathan Tweet?  All familiar names in post-high school quality RPG products.

    Jolly Blackburn (and the Kenzerco crew) for Hackmaster.  It is the largest stash of books I have left.

    Frank Mentzer?  Mister Red Box himself?  After running the keep in the Basic set, the next thing I ran was Temple of Elemental Evil, which was more of Frank's handiwork.

    Jeff Dee?   Villans and Vigilantes and TWERPS

    S. John Ross?    GURPS Russia and Risus

    Do I simply nod to Sandy Petersen or Gary Gygax because I should automatically nod to genius and craftiness?

    It took a little research and cross-referencing but my favorite RPG writer must be Aaron Allston.
    • GAZ1 The Gran Duchy of Karameikos - the first (and best) of Gazetteers.  
    He also wrote
    • GAZ6 The Dwarves of Rockhome.
    • The Hollow World Boxed Set
    • Dawn of the Emperors Boxed Set
    • Wrath of the Immortals Boxed Set
    • Poor Wizards Almanac I
    • THE FREAKIN' RULES CYCLOPEDIA
    • AD&D Dungeon Masters Design Kit:  I used the hell out of my copy.  As a newbie, it certainly helped me.
    • N4 - Treasure Hunt:  The first of the 0-level modules.  Great concept, good if limited execution with the adventure (I much preferred N5 Under Illefarn)
    • The Complete Book of Fighters, Priests, and Ninjas.  Fighters and Priests were not power creeping splat book like many others in the series.  
    • GURPS Autoduel 1st and 2nd Edition
    • Trail of the Gold Spike - a Hero/Justice Inc Adventure that I loved running.
    I'll link his bibliography to show everything else he wrote, but unlike a vast number of the authors listed above, I would give him the benefit with any book he wrote. 

    He only wrote one stinker of an adventure, but that's only because I ran The Mark of Amber and it screwed up my campaign for weeks.  Of course, YMMV, YOLO, FNORD.

    I was saddened to learn that he passed away last year at the age of 53.  I also discovered that he spent his later years writing Star Wars and Terminator novels.  Sci-fi paperbacks haven't been my thing for years, but it might be worth hunting down a few copies.  It should amuse me greatly.

    Monday, August 10, 2015

    Another Mundane Weekend of Stuff

    Another weekend in the books, another weekend with a lot of progress with all things not gaming.

    This weekend was dominated by the local theater production of Jungle Book - Kids, where my daughter Maja played the two crucial roles of Coconut Tree #3 and Monkey #3.    It was a smaller production than the first one she participated in, and although a bunch of the kids were new in this one, everything was far better and more entertaining.  
    Maja the Coconut Tree (far left)
    Saturday was a day of summertime cleaning, both in the yard, and inside, so everything was presentable for my mother's visit Sunday.  After an afternoon of the musical and dinner, she went home and we dropped the kid's off at the other grandmothers for a few hours and my wife and I did what any self-respecting married couple without kids would do:  catch up on Orange is the New Black.

    I constantly tell my wife that she isn't overextending the kids with their activities, she's overextending herself.   I can get out of work by 5:00 usually and 4:30 under special circumstances, and with most activities starting at 5:00 in the Summer, I'm essentially useless and everything is up to her.   Maja wanted to do the next kids' theater production in the Fall and I cringed at the title:  Groovy:  A Tribute to the 60's.   Are they prepping these kids for a career on a cruise ship or third rate Vegas casino?

    I also cringed at the dates:  three shows November 13-15, 2015, the weekend of Mepacon.

    After all the polls, gnashing of teeth, and changing of schedules for my wife, I need to scrap everything and start over.

    Since she certainly wants to do theater, Maja has agreed to a Daddy-Daughter Day November 7th at Fall-In!  in Lancaster.  I wasn't planning to go, but if we can get into a few family games, roam the dealer hall, grab some Egyptian stuff and make a mini-shopping list, it might be worth it.  To keep the Daddy balance of power going, I would take Millie down to the Allentown Train Show on the Sunday of theater weekend, but I could still come back in time to drop her off at Grandma's and catch the afternoon play.

    Other stuff:

    • I swear Golden Goblin was having a 20% off sale on all their backstock (everything except De Horrore Cosmico, but I can't find the e-mail/post/tweet about it.  
    • The Unspeakable Podcast unleashed their Delta Green Q&A from GenCon.    The new DG sounds like 7th edition done right, if Cthulhu was only played by Navy SEALS, and for DG fans, that's not a bad thing.  Still more interested in The Fall of Delta Green  from the September Kickstarter than the actual rulebook.
    • Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff cover some awesome subjects, but none of which is better than putting Star Wars, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Clueless on the same list... and they sure aren't wrong.
    • Miskatonic University Podcast has been MIA now for three and a half weeks, although Keeper Murph is one the recent episode of Friends of Jackson Elias.  
    • Finally caught up with the recent episodes of Gravity Falls.  JK Simmons, Weird Al, and Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons made a great weekend fantastic.
    • The Kriget Rum is still at a standstill.  More cleaning, some touch up painting, and more painting for the workbench stools (now a very healthy red).   The spice racks suggested to me are bit small, and out of stock at every Target in a 150 mile radius.  I may just need to build the shelves myself.  Wood glue and screws, here I come!

    And most importantly:
    • Hoyce is returning, like a knight returning from the Crusades.  Much more on this development later.