Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Going Over in a Barrel at the Lancaster Host

Last week was Dance Dance Rebellion in my house, and somehow that ties directly into the recent catastrophe at the Lancaster Host.

Both my girls attend not one, but two dance classes every week.  I can't complain too much, as my wife writes the check and taxis them around.  This past school year, they've done a beginner hip hop class that they enjoy and a musical theatre dance that I've enjoyed rehearsals. 

This past Friday was the annual dance recital and we had the audacity to allow our kids to be with relatives at Hershey Park on the day of the "big rehearsal that can't be missed!"    Needless to say, after four years of dance for Maja, and three for Millie, plus the other students being old guard as well, no rehearsal was needed and the did as well as a class of five to seven year olds would be expected for a three minute song.

The kids have been asking about doing  a "competition" class next year.   Think youth sport travel teams but for dancing.   The dance studio we go to only does one, and they seem to perform well, but in the world of dancing, there are so many dance styles, age groups, and group size variables that some of these competition give out medals like youth soccer gives everyone participation trophies.

Over the weekend I also watched other friends take their kids to these competitions in Harrisburg, Philly, and even into New Jersey.  Hundreds of dollars on costumes, props, much less the tuition for three or four different classes for the events they entered.

... and the dances would have fit quite well into our little Podunk recital.    Yet these kids came home with trophies reminiscent of a team winning a 30 team track or cross country invitational. 

I rant about this, because one of these dance competitions took place over the weekend at the Lancaster Host, the eternal HMGS home for Cold Wars and Fall-In.  Or should I say, tried to take place.  It seems a significant pipe burst somewhere in the hotel and water poured through three floors and into one of the conference rooms.   The building was evacuated, and ultimately condemned.  The dance event was cancelled and everyone needed to find other accommodations. 

Of course, the second anyone hears the word condemned they immediately associate the word demolition.    A house can be condemned for not having running water or electricity.   Even the words unfit for human occupation brings out the worst in people's expectations.  Busted pipes is far easier to fix than a sewage back-up, for example.

Having some of HMGS' best secret agents on the scene, it was discovered that restoration and plumbing services were already there working quickly to get things back up to acceptable levels.    After the great kitchen incident earlier this year, the doom and gloom evaporates once the Hall Pig is rolled out for dinner.

Without the significant remodeling that the new owners of the Host promise to do, I can't imagine the Host being at the top of the list for HMGS past the contractually obligated cons.
 
For now, I'm still undecided whether to attend Fall-In! this November, or the more local Mepacon the weekend after, but facilities have nothing to do with my decision.    To be honest, I would be taking Maja to either show, and if I choose Lancaster, I'll be making a reservation at the Continental across the street anyway.


6/1/2016  3:30pm  Update E-mail from Kevin Kelley, HMGS Board of Directors:

As you may have heard a plumbing line ruptured in the Host on Saturday.  Assorted on line accounts can be found here:
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-host-condemned-after-major-water-main-break-collapses-ceilings/article_b84f5ff2-252f-11e6-88fb-ffb8c2d14621.html

http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/05/lancaster_host_resort_closed_b.html

http://fox43.com/2016/05/29/hundreds-evacuated-from-lancaster-host-resort-after-ceiling-collapse/

In spite of the overblown news reports the HOST has power and water restored Monday. 

We spoke with Host management Tuesday and can add the following details:

The Host is currently open for business but with certain areas inaccessible due to flooding and water damage.

The Host had two [2] water pipes break; one on the 400 level and one on the 600 level which caused some of the drop ceiling to come down in the hallways.

Both a plumbing company and a restoration company are on site making repairs.
The Host is planning to reopen the affected areas by  Monday 6/6 at the latest.

We  will update you if there is any new information, especially as regards to Fall IN 2016, and the possibly accelerated remodeling.     

Kevin Kelley
For HMGS Board of Directors


I would like to say that, specifically, Mr Kelley and John Spiess have been excellent members on the HMGS Board of Directors, both for their professionalism, but their promptness in communication.  They have done an outstanding job curtailing the constant naysayers in spite of some interesting conditions.

As the great poet Jonathan Swift wrote, "Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate..."

Perhaps that was a different Swift.

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #40: Fonzy Schlepprock

In the Gnomish City-States, the Schlepprock clan was a middling name.  No great warriors emerged nor did any despicable scoundrels.  The origins of the name have always been under debate.  There is no such geological term known as schlepprock.   Schlepp is only found in certain dialects of ancient Halfling tribes that wandered the lands around the Mer Med and Mer Kasps.  Translation is difficult as it appears to have a number of meanings based on the intent of the speaker:  Peacemaker, lazybones, Gnomely Gnome.  With the non-descript, but respectable history of the clan, it's hard to pin down the origin.

Fonzy Schlepprock was the rare Gnome Titan that never partook in combat with the Legions.  Certainly,he enlisted the same day he was eligible, which all Gnome Titans did.  He performed admirably in his training, even showing a talent with the shortsword in either hand.  In the middle of training, however he was injured by his instructor, the rare dwarf in the region with a thirst for discipline and mead.  No one else witnessed the accident, but it left Fonzy blind in one eye and with a distinct dislike for dwarvenkind far beyond the grudge his clan held.  Despite the dwarf's storied adventuring career and service to the Gnomish City-States, the disciplinary board believed Schlepprock's far more outrageous retelling of the encounter.   The instructor was removed, and Fonzie moved into an administrative post, assisting mid-level officers. 

He served his required tour with only bureaucratic distinction, using his position and clever words to rise up to the rank of Lieutenant, with a small pension to send back home to his family.  With that, he bid the military world adieu and left the Gnomish City-States, hopefully forever.

17th HepDec, 1135 - Akorros, Barthey Empire
If you could ask Fonzy today why he was in Akorros that day, and he was willing to tell the truth, it's not certain he could remember. 

There he was resplendent in the finest armor and garments he had "acquired" and had been telling tall tales to earn him early morning drinks from the men and affections from all others.  He had done the same for many days prior. 

With the early reports of the attacks trickling in, bar patrons looked to him for wisdom and strength. 

"Despite my youthful looks, my time as a general in the Gnomish Army was quite awhile ago, but that does not mean I can't get you to safety."

His silver tongue, sharp sword, and apparent knowledge of tactics convinced the half-drunk customers, as they all stormed out to meet a squad of hobgoblins.   They charged these monsters, all the while, Fonzy slipped back to reach the bar's stable, saddled up his war pony, and rode off in the opposite directions. 

He never led a charge that day, commandeering citizens to secure defenses and stall these strange invaders was easy.  As soon as the men were pre-occupied with the orders given to them, Fonzy would find another way out.   Although we can only assume the worst as the fate of those impromptu militias (Akorros was taken by the invaders, and every remaining citizen slaughtered or possibly enslaved) we don't know if these held their own, reach the docks, or find a side gate to escape. 

Fonzy's luck ran out when he ran into a group being led by some town notables.   They somehow managed to tip a juggernaut over, blocking the path of the attack for the monsters, and the locals could retreat back together.  The notable dragged Fonzy to the Mayor of Akorros.   After giving a testimonial of Fonzy's aptitude and vouching for his credentials as a General of the Gnomish City-States, the mayor was delighted to give him command of the city.   He made some troop movements on a map that was the equivalent to spitting onto a fire, but the Mayor was overjoyed by his confidence.

An hour later, the Burning Trogs were brought to the mayor's tent.  The mayor suggested that they fight alongside the general to rally the populace and perhaps organize a counter-attack.

This plan sounded horrible to Fonzy.   The General knew this new group was experienced and powerful, yet one of their gnome titans was already incapacitated, and the other one might not back down from an unreasonable fight.  

Once they all left the mayor's tent, Fonzy's first order was to head towards the dock, secure a command vessel, and aid in the evacuation of the harbor. 

The Trogs bought it, hook, line, and sinker. 

The group pounced upon some hobgoblins who had been killing escaping townsfolk indiscriminately.   After solving that issue, most began to help with the evacuation, getting as many people onto as many boats as possible with some people on board with sailing experience. Many would have to fend for themselves out on the open sea, but they could only focus on getting them out of the harbor. 

Fonzy and his attaché of locals secure a vessel and got everyone's mounts aboard.  He then broke the sorry news to the locals that the city was going to fall.  The invaders were moving too swiftly.  Half of them needed to go back the of the mayor's headquarters and get him to the safety of the docks.  The other half needed to go the treasury and recover whatever funds they could carry, to help finance the counter-attack.  The mindless yes-men sped off, and Fonzy untethered the boat.

Thanks to the fighting prowess of the Trogs, and the fact that sometimes helping people wasn't against their best interests, hundreds more were given the chance to escape.  Dressed in full armor, they weren't diving in to save people, but they were getting children reunited with their families, lifting cripples onto boats, and throwing ropes to people in the water. 

But even then, they knew that more effort was in vain, they headed back to the General's ship, as they found him, and four sailors.   They pulled the ship back to the dock in order to board the ship, and Fonzy gave the militaristic order to leave.

Fonzy:  "Go! Go! Go!!!"

Once out of the harbor, Zorin was unusually charitable with this high ranking gnome-titan, even offering his spare shortsword the the General.  No one had any idea of Fonzy's true nature or experience.

And to be honest, since everyone was safe and sailing towards Barthey City, no one cared.

For now...

Seriously, in a campaign where Hackmaster is the the system, who doesn't want to hear the words gnome-titan general on our side in a moment of crisis?   Fonzy brought hope and courage to anywise hopeless time, even if it didn't change any other facts. 

As a gaming group, everyone gave a hearty "Huzzah!" with just a tinge of trepidation, as Steve finally made his first gaming session with the group.  Steve was my friend, former college roommate, and player of two of the most memorable characters in my AD&D college game, Echellon, cleric of pigeons, and Ozark, a 4th level half-orc level who had reached max level 52 years prior (He was 74).    Playing a confident, charismatic Gnome Titan in a group that already had two of them was a welcome addition.  The group welcomed this young but seasoned commander with open arms, either failing to meta-game, or failing to realize that, without exception, all new characters in Hackmaster start at 1st level.    Lucky for them, Fonzy was a competent character under his alter ego.

Next:  Episode #41: Black Shield

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reaper Bones 3 Kickstarter Add-Ons Closes on June 1st

It's amazing how many people who pledged to the Reaper Bone 3 Kickstarter still don't know they need to finalize their order in the pledge manager, or are unaware that they can still add on to their pledge up until sometime on Wednesday, June 1st.

Go on over to the Kickstarter or the Reaper Home Page, if you want a chance to grab anything and everything at the pre-production pledge levels.

For me, the extended pledge manager people is a blessing.  I only dropped a whopping $39 on stuff during the initial campaign, but in dribs and drabs I've locked in an additional $67 of product. 

Initial Order
Thank You  - $1.00
Frost Giant Warriors - $10
Mystic Circle - $15
Mouslings - $10
Mr & Mrs Bones - $2.00
Sophie - $1.00

November
Space Mouslings  - $10

January
Frost Giant Warriors - $10

March
Stormwing  - $10
Fire Giant King and Queen - $15

April
Frost Giant King and Queen - $12

May
More Mouslings!  - $10

Should be enough to add to the queue at the end of the year. 

Maybe I'll jump on the $100 pledge for Bone IV, but that may be dependent on how much the girls paint.

 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

More Tomb Decorations.. And Arriving Bikers

If took multiple acts of God (my wife's cousin taking the kids for two days, a date night, AND the Penguins winning game 7 to reach the Stanley Cup, but I have finally reached down into the dark recesses of the house and sat at my painting bench. 

A couple pieces of news:  First, I finished up more Egyptian terrain from Windsword.  They were in Maja's queue, but I need to make some space on the table.  They've got enough horses, cowboys, and Reaper Bones to work on for a while. 

Although she's out of focus in the picture, I reduced the Anime-eyes on Ewe Cowles.

Secondly, I'm a bit insane but with a 40% coupon at Michaels, I invested in a can of stone-effect spray paint.  The next super-secret project is either going to be super easy or crazy huge, but it will be different that the last time I bought this type of paint.  
 
Finally, in a showing that there is hope for Kickstarters, I received my pledge for the Post-Apocalyptic Dwarf Bikers campaign at the end of the week,  a full five months before delivery was promised!
 
My lone biker with a pot helmet and grenade launcher had some company.   
 
 
I did say "Sure, send me extra bits if you got 'em" when asked on the survey.  I didn't expect two whole extra bikes!  Ergo, I will do exactly what Curtis at Ramshackle Games may have hoped when he packed this :
 
For the love of God, go over Ramshackle Games and order a pile of stuff RIGHT NOW.  Or, you can wait for the Dwarf Bikers to hit the website and order a whole bunch of them.  They're fun little figures. 
 
I can't look a gift Post-Apocalyptic Dwarf Biker in the mouth, but my only complaint is that the one freebie riders has a customizable left hand/arm and all the bits are right arm/hand.  No worries, one of the extra flame throwers has already been modified. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Steve's Gnome Potpourri

We played Call of Cthulhu at my friend Steve's house last weekend.   Outside of some discussion about unfulfilled Kickstarters, we covered little about minis and wargaming.   Until, that is, I turned a corner on my way out of the basement bar and spied some more of Steve's painting for Gnome Wars.

Sorry for the impromptu snap, I was already running late.
 

 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Apathy of New Releases (Jun '16)

For sixty-nine months I have made this monthly post, covering the new solicitations out of Game Trade Magazine for Alliance Games Distribution. I haven't been doing it as a service for the gaming public, rather to take advantage of the blog to note cool stuff I may want and live out that dream of running a game store again at least once a month. 

Starting this month, I'm going back to putting the "The" in front of the title, rather than the "Apathy of the New Releases which changed sometime in the middle of the articles.  The Apathy is from my lack of excitement over most of each month's items.  The new releases aren't apathetic in and of themselves, rather, some are rage-inducing (like Games Workshop).

I went back the past few years and confirmed it, the May issue of GTM historically has some of the worst crap offered compared to all other months.  This year is no exception.   Previous years have been filled with a pile of geek-related crap (plushies, cardboard stand-ups, mugs, etcs).  This year they've gone the route of useful CCG accessories (always a good time to stock up!), but the items are listed as "PI" which refers a customer to "please inquire" with the store for pricing, and for the store owner, a significantly  lower discount (and less profit).  Not necessarily the stuff customers actively inquire about, and not the stuff most stores stock adequately for consistent sales (if they stock it at all.)

Next month should be a sizable list of GenCon release

My Must Have Want List
Nuttin'

My "Money-is-no-Object" Want List
Arc Dream Publishing
Delta Green RPG:  Agent's Handbook ....................................................................... $39.99
Delta Green RPG:  Need to Know .............................................................................. $24.99
I should have jumped into the Kickstarter with both feet, and I should grab this right now.  I just don't know when I would have a chance to play this. 

My Imaginary Store (The Pegleg Gnome) List

Albino Dragon
The Goonies Adventure Card Game .......................................................................... $34.99

ALC Studio
Jim Henson's Labyrinth The Board Game ................................................................. $50.00

Ares Games
A lot more Wings of Glory planes, but no pricing, and the fact that the pictures make the planes look cheap is a huge turn off.  As I mentioned last month, despite my desire to support historicals, the imaginary sales of my imaginary store would suggest I have trim back a sizable amount, if not a full liquidation.

The Army Painter
The Others:  Paint Set of Sin .................................................................................... $29.99

Atlas Games
Lost in R'lyeh Card Game ........................................................................................ $14.95

Catalyst Game Labs
Shadowrun: Court of Shadows HC .................................................................. $49.99
Shadowrun:  Stirred PB .................................................................................... $12.95

Cheapass Games
Kill Doctor Lucky:  The Secret Lair of Doctor Lucky Expansion .................... $16.00

Cubicle 7
Cthulhu Tales ..................................................................................................... $29.99

Dex Protection
I know everytime I walk into the real FLGS, I'm shocked by how much sleeves, binders, pages, deck boxes, etc have crept up in price over the years.  Dex Protection makes all that stuff, but you know why I would order from them?  Retail laziness.  Their Proline deck boxes have two sizes and two matching MSRPs.  I'd much rather use them than need to calculate a price from Ultra-Pros stock wholesale price, especially since,, if stores sell the same Ultra-Pro item for the same price as the Dex Protection, the store makes more money.   Call me crazy.

Fantasy Flight Games
Cold War:  CIA vs KGB ..................................................................................... $14.95
Eldritch Horror:  Signs of Carcosa Expansion .................................................... $24.95
SW Armada:  Imperial Assault Carriers .............................................................. $19.95
SW Armada:  Rebel Transports ........................................................................... $19.95

Frank Tiano Enterprises
Zap a Gape Single Use CA+ (5 - 0.01 Oz Tubes) ................................................ $ 4.95
I guess this is good to throw in your minis case when you damage something at the tournament. 

Games Workshop
'Ardcase .............................................................................................................. $135.00
Rant time, again.  I winced 15 years ago when I dropped $50 for GW case.  Foams a little worn, but it's certainly serviceable.  Water tight and air tight are not two things I need in a minis, but yet, for $135, I can have them.

Angels of Death Codex Supplement
Black Legion Codex Supplement
Crimson Slaughter Codex Supplement ............................................................... $33.00 each
So, GW releases beautiful hardcover codexes, and now we need supplements to those codexes for the cool stuff in expansion, with no promise that they won't do more.  Classic GW.

Imperial Knights:  Renegades .............................................................................. $195.00
Upon finding an unboxing video, I'm appalled.  Mini-titans for 40K with a million pieces for two hundred bucks?   SMGDMFH

Goodman Games
Dungeon Crawl Classics Core Rules SC ............................................................... $24.99

IDW
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past .............................................. $89.99

Konami Entertainment Group
YU-GI-OH! TCG: 2016 MEGA-TINS
YU-GI-OH! TCG Rise of the True Dragons Structure Deck Display

Monte Cook Games
Numenera RPG  Character Options 2 ....................................................................... $29.99
Numenera RPG Torment - Tides of Numenera The Explorer's Guide HC .............. $39.99

Osprey Publishing
Poseidon's Warriors:  Classical Naval Warfare  480-31 BC ......................................  PI
An Osprey wargaming book without a price.  This, after a slew an questionable or obscure companies with the same issues, it now occurs to me that the issue is less 25% alliance/75% manufacturer than 50+% alliance and much less for the game companies.  It's a shame, since Game Trade is the nicest and friendliest approach to FLGS customers. 

Pazio Publishing
Pathfinder Adv Path - Strange Aeons Part 1 - In Search of Sanity .........................  $24.99
Pathfinder Campaign Setting:  Planes of Power .....................................................  $22.99
Pathfinder Flip Mat Classics - River Crossing ........................................................  $13.99
Pathfinder Flip Mat Classics - Waterfront Tavern ..................................................  $13.99
Pathfinder Map Pack:  Labyrinths ........................................................................... $14.99
Pathfinder Player Companion:  Haunted Heroes HB .............................................. $14.99

Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Savage Worlds  Rippers Resurrected - Frightful Expeditions ................................ $19.99
Savage Worlds  Rippers Resurrected - Player's Guide ........................................... $19.99
Savage Worlds  Rippers Resurrected - GM Handbook ........................................... $19.99
Savage Worlds:  Savage Tales of Terror Vol 1 ....................................................... $19.99
Savage Worlds:  Savage Tales of Terror Vol 2 ....................................................... $19.99
Savage Worlds:  Savage Tales of Terror Vol  3 ...................................................... $19.99

Reaper Miniatures
In a world where the Reaper Bones are a dime a dozen (adjusted for inflation), I question why they're releasing more undead/skeletons.  Don't get me wrong, they're quite nice., but in a world where plenty of minis manufacturers have backstock in cheaper skeletons, making them for $3.50 apiece is ludicrous.    There's also a mass release of their Master Series paints.   $3.69 for a 1/2 ox (14.78ml) pot is a better deal than the 12ml GW for $3.99+.

Rogue Games
Colonial Gothic:  Gamemaster ................................................................................. $19.99

Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin: Alphabet Coloring Book Blister Pack ...................................................... $ 6.95
Munchkin: Playing Cards ............................................................................................ $8.95
Market Saturation Level..... REACHED!

Toy Vault
Cthulhu:  My First Cthulhu-  Recall of Cthulhu Memory Game ................................ $23.99

Troll Lord Games
Castles & Crusades RPG:  Shadows of a Green Sky ................................................... $ 9.99

Wizkids
Heroclix Premium Map Factory ................................................................................. $24.99
Heroclix Premium Map Ship  ..................................................................................... $24.99
Marvel Dice Masters:  Deadpool.
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

(Kickstarter) 28mm 1939-41 Soviets for Nomonhan, Poland, and the Eastern Front

The second Kickstarter from Brigade Games 28mm 1939-41 Soviets for Nomonhan, Poland, and the Eastern Front has just launched.

 
Brigade is famous for covering "interesting" figures lines long neglected by other companies.  They explain their versatility:
 
These figures area designed to demonstrate the unique Soviet uniforms from 1938 through the initial onslaught of Barbarossa. These figures show the forces of the USSR and their allies as they would have fought the Japanese prior to the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. The summer weather in the Far East could be quite warm and the armies tended to “travel light”. Uniforms of the USSR during this period did not have shoulder boards, a throwback to the 1917 revolution and, most uniquely, wore the Model 1936 helmet with broad brim, flared sides and comb on top. 
Some of the great advantages of these figures are their versatility and their unique uses – they are appropriate for the 1938/39 fighting against the Japanese, offering VERY interesting wargaming scenarios, may be used in the 1939 invasion of Poland and against the Germans and their allies in the 1941 Barbarossa campaign. 

 
 
The pledge levels start at reasonable 12 figures for $28.00 ($2.33 each) to just over $2.00 a figure for the larger pledge levels.   Do consider, though that those figures are also including artillery pieces and/or cavalry figures that can be purchased as an add-on for $5 apiece ($40 for a set of 8).


CoC #33: Masks of Nyarlathotep #13 From the Ashes of Kenya

April 23, 1925- Southeast of Mt Kenya, 3am
The investigators had already learned a valuable lesson this night: Stopping an evil ritual and interrupting an evil ritual were not the same thing.  Now on the run through the Kenyan wilderness with no guide and no map, thousands of cultists wishing death upon them was not a good thing.

Lucky for our group, the swarms of cultists were not organized in the least, and group could dispatch them by the handful.  Doubling their luck, multiple gunshots could be heard in various directions, so the  remaining horde weren't all running towards them en masse when they fired their weapons. 

Our Investigators:
Dr Bob Wintermute:  Professor of History, Miskatonic University
Steven O'Hara:  Physics grad student, Columbia University
Francois Guerin:  Mercenary, ex-French Foreign Legion
Father Dorian Dolan:  Anglican Priest

The only thing that got them safely out of the forest was a brave local native, named Mutumbo.  Armed only in  spear, they evaded more cultists and almost emerged out the other side towards civilization when they heard a single click and hearty British accent, "My good chaps, if you could explain your presence here, it would be right fighting."

Standing in the clearing was an aged man, pointing an elephant gun at them.   This would be their introduction to Richard John "RJ" Cuninghame, famed African Big Game Hunter.

Mr RJ Cuninghame, I presume on an earlier safari. 
RJ was a on a safari for some samples (living and dead) for the Hong Kong Zoo.   As his camp rested last night, these crazed individuals began to overrun it.  Everyone else in his party, white or black, had been killed.

Steven was trying to better explain the investigator's reasons for getting lost in the middle of the Kenyan night, but two ruckuses were coming from opposite direction.    Francois and RJ easily covered the one side from a raid of a dozen cultists.  For Steven, Bob, their instructions from RJ were simple, "Let the lion out of its crate and get out of the way"

Bullets and the King of the Jungle were sufficient to take out both fronts.  

The group managed to re-capture the lion using ropes, Steve perfecting at lassoing the beast and bulky Francois holding and pulling the creature back in its crate. 

Sleep-deprived and sanity-drained Steven began on a bit of an incoherent rant about how the group knew what to do (even though they hadn't successfully done anything about it yet.).and if anyone left them, they ran a high probability of getting murdered.   He was eventually subdued with a slap across the face by Wintermute, and Dr Bob convinced RJ to abandoned his safari and at least head back to the safer confines of Nairobi.

April 26, 1925 - Nairobi, Kenya
There will a few more small skirmishes with cultists, but the investigators were well on their way back.  Mutumbo wishes them good luck and headed back to his village. 

They got to the ridge marking the Kenyan highlands and could see the smoke emanating from Nairobi.   

The closer they got to Nairobi, the more agitated Dr Bob became. 

"We need to avoid Nairobi... it's already too late.  We can find a river that flows away from Nairobi... build a raft... float down to the coast and find a way off this God-forsaken continent.  If that's what we dealt with before, I'm not getting anywhere near it."
The fires of Nairobi were noticeable quite a distance away.
Cuninghame was bemused, "We, a bunch of white men without porters, are going to assemble large enough rafts to sail down rivers that I only have rudimentary familiarity with?  Dear sir, the first five minutes on the river and you would try to use the back of a hippo as a stepping stone. We would only need nothing bigger than a hat box to mail your remains back home. " 

The rest acquiesced to the hunter's position... Dr Bob grumbled most of the way back.

Nairobi was a smoky mess.  The conflagration was odd in its path of destruction,   Whole buildings had been reduced to a light powdery ash, while others beside them stood intact, while a few odd buildings appeared to have the fire mysteriously stop halfway through the building, leaving the surviving portion only suffering from smoke damage. 

Cuninghame's hotel he used had been reduced to ashes, but the investigator's Hampton House Hotel stood in the precarious third description.  The building appeared to had been burning on all four sides and working its way in.   Most of the party's belongings were singed or ruined.  The books, kept in well protected steamer trunks, suffered the same random fate as the rest of the town.  All the tomes were transferred to easier parcels to carry and the group dashed to the railway station.

The railway station was utter chaos, as most of the surviving populace, white, brown, and black were in full panic trying to escape the still-smoldering remnants of Nairobi.  The investigators fought through the crowd of Africans, clubbing many who got in their way.  The Africans did not take kindly to yet another display of random Colonial power, and many tried to pull the rifles, satchels, and supplies right off the party, but ultimately, they made it to the Kings African Rifles (KAR) protecting the platform and got aboard the Whites Only train ready to race towards Mombassa.

They slept poorly, if at all on the trip down into the lowlands, but with a company of  KAR guarding atop the train, they could relax enough to look at options in Mombassa.

April 28, 1925 - Mombassa, Kenya
The investigators arrived to a scene in Mombassa, smaller in scale to Nairobi.   Sporadic fires where being put out throughout the city.  Refugees from Nairobi flooded the streets.  Every ship offering passenger service out of Mombassa was booked two times beyond normal capacity, and despite bribes and their persuasive skills, no one could get as much as a deck chair on any of them.    Cuninghame did work over towards the cargo freighters and purchased space aboard the SS Vahanna.  Destination: Shanghai. 

April 29, 1925 - Mombassa, Kenya
The team finally leaves Mombassa aboard the freighter Vahanna
The SS Vahanna, in better days

May 4, 1925 - Aboard the SS Vahanna
While the Captain, a smarmy  half-British/half Indian by the name of James Sardar Bosen, had promised the ship's arrival in Shanghai in two weeks, it was quite obvious that the ship could not run that hard.  Between that and the rainy season across the Indian Ocean, it looked as if five or six weeks minimum was more reasonable.  Steven jumped into action, spending his days and evenings below deck, repairing equipment, jury-rigging fixes when the parts were not available, giving proper maintenance that the largely Indian crew had woefully neglected.   Within a week, the ship was running as optimal as it could, and the grateful Captain recalculated arrival  of the Vahanna as three weeks. 

May 7, 1925 - Aboard the SS Vahanna
While the others decided to read tomes or keep busy with activities away from the crew, Francois was hoping a Gurkha was on-board, that he could befriend him and learning just a sliver of their legendary knife fighting skills.  There was one lone Sikh on board, a Barander Singh, who was willing to teach, but minutes into the first lesson, a rogue wave crashed into the Vahanna.  Singh lost his balance, fumbled his large knife, and gave himself such a grievous wound that no amount of first aid could save him.

As the crew was fond of the Sikh, and the only witness to the accident was the blood soaked Frenchmen, rumors of murder worked its way through the ship. 

May 10, 1925 - Aboard the SS Vahanna
It had been a tense three days, but thanks to the good professional relationship built by Steven O'Hara and Captain Bosen, and the arsenal of weapons the investigators had.  The calls for Francois to be tossed over subsided.  The Frenchmen spent the rest of the voyage hiding from the crew, and always stayed near another investigator when it was time to eat.

May 22, 1925 - Shaghai Harbor, China
The SS Vahanna arrived outside Shaghai harbor, Steven O'Hara at the helm.  His continued work on the ship had earned him a prominent spot of respect with Captain Bosen, so it wasn't surprising the captain allowed a few lessons in navigation and ship piloting, when the American asked. 

Some people may call this a hand-waving episode, but the investigators made the crucial rolls they needed to make in order to make it to Shanghai.  We got two other games in on the same gaming session, and without Bob and Aaron to run their characters, we simply wanted to see if the investigators could escape Kenya (with RJ's help they could...) and get more reading/skill training in for their final destination in Masks: China.

Next:  Masks Episode #14:  A Jolly Right Time in Shanghai

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

(Kickstarter) Knuckle Sammich

9th Level Games, publishers of Kobolds Ate My Baby, have launched a Kickstarter for their KAMB card game, Knuckle Sammich

KING TORG IS SO HUNGRY! All Hail King Torg!

Uh-oh! You’re late! Lunch is nearly over and the sandwiches are running out!  It’s time to put some sandwiches in your belly and fast - before King Torg and the other Kobolds eat ’em all (or worse yet, eat you). You may just have to make your own lunch with some KNUCKLE SAMMICHES!
Knuckle Sammich is a fast playing game of take-that shenanigans*, occasional yelling**, and delicious sammiches*** for 2–8 players. 
*If you are not a fan of shenanigans, then you probably don’t want to play this game.
**If you don’t think its fun to shout silly things, then sadly, this game is not for you. We thank you for your patience up to this point.
***The sammiches included in the box are made out of cardboard, please don’t eat them.

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #39: Red Arrow

The following Trogs had been to the wedding of Lady Arlene Harlan in Califon, and were scheduled to meet up with the rest of their group back in Celsior:
Zorin Redrock - Gnome Titan Fighter.  Veteran of the Barbarian Wars, and hero of Marakeikos due to the retaking of Frandor's Keep.
Cecelia Darkspruce - Half-Elf Fighter Cleric of Sif.   Her previous sorority girl-styled ways had been hardened by weeks travelling the dusty trails of the Northern Mer Kasp completely alone, desperately trying to get back to Celsior.
Gwendalyn Lorax  - Half Elf Druid.  Her trials alone in Mer Kasp did not last as long as Cecelia, but they were equally intense and damaging to her psyche. 
Terval Sit - Half-Elf Mage
"Whitey"  - Albino Halfling Priest of Yondalla.   Zorin's sidekick.

9th of QuaDec 1135, Califon
The wedding attendees left for Celsior.

13th of QuaDec 1135, Celsior
After a rainy, miserable ride, they arrived in Celsior.  Trogs HQ was in a celebration with the other active Trogs:
Janus Redrock - Gnome Titan Priest of Pangrus.  Cousin of  Zorin Gnome Titan of loose morals and  a hero of Marakeikos.
Coreena Ruddledater- 9 year old halfling torchbearer.
Ramsa - Mute Halfling Fighter - Gwen's Protégé.

As well as the Nubian warrior, Mutumbo, his wife Nina, and their baby Takem.  With beams of sunshine finally cracking through the clouds, they had finally begun pealing back the boards barricading the building during the religious war.  New paint had been purchases and the HQ was being cleaned!

1st of HepDec 1135, Celsior
Over the past month, Cecelia and Zorin had received a formal invitation to dine with Baron Desmond.  Everything in the barony and the kingdom seemed to be going much better, despite no one knowing the fate of the still missing King.

They also learn that numerous merchants are funding groups to combat the pirate/slaver issue on the Mer Kasp.

On night, in the bar, Gwedalyn got a Pixie-Fairy friend, Tywuelyn (Pixie Fairy Infiltrator), who became her side-kick.

With the world a bit calmer, they decided to check out the merchants hiring and sail to Akorros in Barthey for the most profitable jobs.

13th of HepDec 1135, Akorros, Barthey Empire.
The Trogs arrived in Akorros.

Most inquiries for employment led them to Arthur Highwright, a prominent merchant.  He had  lost a LOT of money recently, and was paying gobs of gold for experienced warriors to act as his guards. 

He was out of the city right, but was expected back soon, so the Trogs decided to enjoy the city while they waited for him. 

Zorin:  It looks like Akorros hasn't been touched by recent strife and the people are very friendly and the place seems like a major center

17th of HepDec 1135, Akorros.
On the fifth day of their stay, they travelled back to Highwright's office to check on his return. 

Some kind of ruckus was coming towards the city from the east.  The Trogs went back to the inn for their mount and tried to check it out.  While riding against the tide of fleeing townsfolk, they came upon two hill giants wrecking the place.  They were quickly slain, but Tywuelyn flew up above the buildings to see a HUGE army sacking the city.

Janus:  There are many goblin desert wolfriders flooding through the streets, we'll try to avoid them if we can,  Gwen says that there are about 100 of them.   We ended up fighting a group of 10.  One of the wolves rended by thigh grievously.  Blood is going everywhere.  Whitey staunched the bleeding, still going to need some bedrest or a better spell to get much better.

Now we've got some bugbears to deal with.  A spear came at me, I fell off my pony

The rest of the group beat the bugbears.  They woke me and strap me to the saddle of the pony.  We need to get out of this city and to somewhere safer.  We've gotten to the docks.

Zorin:  After riding around trying to find a way out of the town we came upon the mayor and reserve unit.  He put us under General Schlepprock.  He orders us to the docks to secure that area.

When we get to the docks everything is in chaos.  The General order us to secure a boat.  The boat heads out for Barthey City.

After a few hours, we come across the Barthey navy battling some pirates... (and giving us cover to escape).


Here we have the Burning Trogs acting practical.  Looking for practical employment (caravan duty) appropriate to their skill-set (mid level characters), looking to impress a potential employer who would probably give a small advance in good faith to ensure his caravan gets through. 

And I had to throw in a humanoid invasion. 

Writing up this actual play also forced me to make a decision as to where to place Akorros.   My fantasy geography originally failed by placing it as the nearest port Barthey City.  Unfortunately, I had already set up a smaller port two days hard ride from the capital when they complete the Desert Nomad storyline.   On top of that, there was no way a major humanoid army would make it across even half of Barthey, lawlessness and communication problems aside.  Akorros is officially located on the far northeast corner of Treibezond very close to the border with the Parthian Empire.  Given the boat they seized to escape, it should not effect the timeline by too much.

But first, who is this General Schlepprock, why did he essentially use his command to secure a boat to escape, despite the Trogs initial successes (save Janus' injuries), and why did Zorin omit from the journal entry, an essential descriptive detail about the General?

Gnome-Titan, General Schlepprock.

Next:  #40  "General" Schlepprock

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sneezy, Happy, Nylarathotep, and the Rest of the Seven Dwarfs

I'm pretty healthy for a fat guy.  Drives my wife and the doctors insane.  A little time in the gym at the office, and a few walks faster than our dogs' pace and I'd turn into a pretty healthy somewhat fat guy. 

The one week of the year that always strays from this is the when the stars are right and the pollen mix is just perfect for my sinuses to try and burst out of my face.  It started in the middle of high school, and the last 25 years has been a fruitless mission to try to combat this without becoming a zombie.  The doctor gave me free samples of some miracle drug back in the early 90's, but that got pulled off the market, so it's an experimentation with brand and store name products.

Last week started my week of hell, so that just compounded my normal litany of excuses not paint.    Hard to concentrate when the drugs are making you loopy/jittery, but doing nothing to stop the ectoplasm trying to escape out of my head.

It took a not-medically-recommended cocktail of drugs to be coherent and content at my daughter Maja's "final" 7th birthday party at Knoebels.  Each year we do get fewer guests, as the friends with kids have other obligations, and Maja is slowly building up her school friends, but we may have the lowest of the low-key parties at the park.  Cupcakes, On-site pizza (yum!), a couple bags of chips, juice boxes for the kids, water for the adults, and each kid gets a $20 book of tickets for rides.  No costumed characters, no games, no 97 crock pots full of food.  Just get everyone together to eat and go on a few rides. 

Of course, the latest saga of "ViscountEric is getting old"  is that Maja is now tall enough to go on most rides... without an adult.  My roller coaster riding buddy has gone looking for others to ride with.

Millie just hit 42" to go on her first real roller coaster, the Twister, but the jury is still out for her...
This ride does WHAT?
The other selfish thing about a seven-year olds party.  People stop bringing presents and start bring money/gift cards, so I only had one trip back to the van with our booty and leftover cupcakes. 

Sunday was an extended two-part adventure.  First was a trip down to Easton to help my Mom with her aging back porch.  We'll simply chalk that up to a fruitless disaster that I'll need to venture down  again.    I did grab the fastest breakfast ever at Williams Restaurant, where I got my first job many eons ago.  I barely took a sip of coffee and opened up my copy of Masks when my omelet appeared.   Very little is left from my days of scrubbing casserole dishes and mopping the floors, but it's far better than the last I was there, five or six years ago.

The drama with the porch and an aging, argumentative mother meant my window to stop by one or two Lehigh Valley hobby shops was out the window, as I had to drive across the valley for our game day at Steve's .

Good news for the Cthulhu game:  The investigators have escaped Kenya and will be arriving in Shanghai for next time.       My co-worker had been invited to play but ran way too late.  Nate got to play a new character, "RJ" Cuninghame, Big Game Hunter, who was quite effective against cultists.  Actual play forthcoming.

With a short CoC session, I introduced Spirit of '77 to the group, running Cruiseship of the Damned Again.    I had introduced the narrative "Yes, and" style of play with this week's Cthulhu game, so by the time they were running up and down the hallways in the ship, it might not have been old hat, but it was a comfortable fit.  Vincest Peck discovered the secret of the ship before going down, and Sammy Summers and her new Chinese cheerleader friend Ming Lo may escaped before the end credits rolled.

Last game of the day was Loop Inc, yet another Kickstarter Steve backed, this time from Eagle Games.  It's best described as a mixture or Robo-Rally planning, general resource gathering, with a healthy dose of wibblely-wobbley, timey-whimey stuff. 


When I got home I discovered Maja received one more belated birthday gift from her Uncle Kenny:  Munchkin Oz.  
 
I was going to hold off Munchkin for a little bit later, but she can't wait until her last week of rehearsals/practices can be over and we have time to play it over the weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

(TBT) Gaming in the Minsi Basement

This has got to be early 1999, in the very early stages of moving my 2nd AD&D Georic Campaign into the college group at East Stroudsburg.  Everyone looks way too young, the only person who actually went to college there at the time was Jon (white shirt) and he dropped out that Spring, and those blue folders for character sheets were quickly discarded thereafter.

(L to R)  Droz/Ashe the Ranger, Scott/Maloran the Fighter, Jon/a fighter that slips everyone's memory, Phil/Rolf the Barbarian,  and Wooly/Kane the Asian Monk/Cleric.
We ran our games in the basement of Minsi Hall, the dorm I stayed in. Outside of a few random drunks or confused people doing laundry, we commandeered the entire floor. Saturday nights were raucous affairs.

Late Friday nights down there were notorious for board games and the tables in the pictures were the ones Hoyce flipped after losing his cool in a game a Samurai Swords, chucking a single d6 at the table and causing mass devastation to the board set-up and tipping a table over. 

It was one hell of a throw.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kitten Armor


This is why my cats won't LARP with me anymore.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #38: The Destiny of Lords and Ladies

The ongoing solo adventures of Cecelia Darkspruce, half-elf warrior priestess of Sif.

To the few residents of the continent of Talaishia who are aware of the forests of Marakeikos, they are fairly non-descript.  They do not have to dark and arcane grandeur of the forests of Feraso. They don't have the incredible variety of natural beasts in the woods of Crosedes. They lack the magical Senzaran menagerie that has migrated in to Phandril.  It could very well be argued that the neighboring foggy Vlachian forests are far more darker and full of horrid beasts that parents threaten their misbehaving children with.

Of course Vlachia is just where Cecelia Darkspruce had travelled through.  She had learned the tricks for traversing that land:  Don't travel at night, avoid large groups of strangers, and make sure she was at a village or sufficient shelter well before the sun set. 

In Marakeikos, the woods are thicker, the foul beasts not as plentiful, but those bastions of civilization spotted across the Kingdom can be quite remote.  Truth be told, the rules of travelling the roads and paths of Marakeikos should match that of Vlachia.  Travelling at night is still dangerous, although most of the tales you hear in Marakeikos are elaborate brigands, thieves with the flair for the dramatic. 

When you look at all the surrounding areas, Marakeikos is still considered backwards, and that is with it sharing it's entire western border with Milosic, a humanoid wasteland or the most foolhardy attempt to settle.  But orcs and goblins in the wastelands, or the rare werewolf hiding along the tree line or small monsters when compared to the true threat to the Kingdom: man.

There are no alliances, nor treaties, nor even gentlemen's agreements with Vlachia.   Only the wisest Heralds or Sages know of a distant relation between King Ludwig of Vlachia and the missing King Valens the Younger, but any similarities in blood had been immediately ignored.   With King Valens' whereabouts unknown, it would be wise for the baronial troops of Vadevincsky to eye the border with a bit more diligence.  Unfortunately, their enthusiasm for such things does not exceed their greed, so when given the ability to come upon the random lonesome traveler, it is far safer to rid them of all their belongings at the border and allow them to continue on, although it's probably safer to kill them outright on suspicion of being a spy. 

5th of TriDec, 1135 - Barony of Vadevincscky, Kingdom of Marakeikos!
Knowing all of the above, it was no surprise then for Cecelia to find herself  surrounded by three threatening men, little different than the brigands they were protecting the barony from.  All three were surprised that when they moved it to take the woman's worldly possession.  Cecelia would not succumb to highway robbery mere feet within her adopted homeland and dispatched with the same speed and aggression she had witnessed firsthand on your year-long journey.

Less than a half days' walk into the barony, she was again surrounded, this time by six heavily armed cavalry with the coat of arms of Vadevincsky emblazoned on their tunics.  Even after she willingly surrendered, the men tossed her around a bit before taking her to the dungeon beneath the Baron's castle.

6th of TriDec, 1135 - Barony of Vadevincscky, Kingdom of Marakeikos!
The next morning the same men that captured her offered her a basic breakfast, then escorted her to the Baronial throne room, where her equipment lay on a side table.  There was a single older man present in the room, who quickly shooed the men away. 

He introduced himself as Hollend, Seneschal of Baron Halfred of Vadevincsky.  The Baron had just passed away and news of this tragedy had not left the walls of the castle.  The lone heir, Lord Tedmund, his son, was on a holy pilgrimage and could not be located.  Any military presence would alert the peasants and the border raiders.   Hollend requested Cecelia travel to the Abbey of Halmath and find the Baron-to-be in exchange for safe passage to the elven lands of the Riffalin.  Cecelia could only agree.

7th of TriDec, 1135 - Barony of Vadevincscky, Kingdom of Marakeikos
Cecelia left the castle on horseback (her first horse in over a year!) with a spare horse for Tedmund,  followed by two guardsmen/bodyguards in peasant dress

9th of TriDec, 1135 - Abbey of Halmath, Vadevincsky.
The trio had encountered some brigands, and a few fearful humanoids before reaching the small Abbey of Halmath.    As Cecelia neared the front doors, she could hear the snap of multiple crossbows.  She turned to find her horse and the baron's dead, and the two bodyguards joined by four Baronial guard in full regalia.  She sensed the this whole mission was a set-up and dove over the wall and dashed into the woods.

13th of TriDec, 1135 - Northwest Marakeikos
For three long days, the guards tried to hunt her down in the woods.  Assuming they had additonal men guarding the roads to Celsior and Vadevincsky, Cecelia worked west, further into the unknown forest.   She used every ounce of elven blood in her to take advantage of the forest, and waylay the guards individually.   When the fourth guard was dispatched, there was no more sign of pursuit.

Outside a few rations and another black cloak, she took one of the black full helms off one of the bodies.
18th of TriDec, 1135 - Village of Pyce, Marakeikos
Lost, starving, and almost dead from exposure, Cecelia stumbled into a small village and was immediately taken inside by someone.  A local healer was called and stabilized.  She had reached Pyce, a logging village that was supplying the cities of of the Kingdom.

20th of TriDec, 1135 - Village of Pyce, Marakeikos
Cecelia recovered quickly and, learning that the villagers swore fealty to no one, explained her need to arrive at Celsior and was offered a job working the giant logging rafts downriver into Highforge. There, she could purchase a horse and finally finish her journey.

30th of TriDec, 1135 - The Independent Kingdom of Highforge. 
Horrible Spring weather made the great launch of lumber rafts a miserable experience, and if took a few days in Highforge to build up her strength to finally reach Celsior.  A riding horse was finally purchased to slog through the mud for the last stretch of her journey.

4th of QuaDec, 1135 Celsior
Cecelia finally reached Celsior.  She found her home boarded up, so she rode over to the Baron Desmond's Castle and demanded an audience. After detailing her struggle, the Desmond admitted that the Trogs had been in town only recently, and may have gotten a invitation to Lady Arlene's wedding in Califon.   He and his wife were unable to attend, but she was welcome to act as representative of Celsior to the festivities.    She bought new clothes, had the armorer polish up the weapons, armor, and helm and departed to Califon.

7th of QuaDec, 1135 Califon
The weather continued to be atrocious, finally improving as she entered the valley that Califon was in.  She had enough time to clean up, provide the blessing from the Baron, and head back to her room for a solid night's sleep.

8th of QuaDec 1135 - Califon
Feeling much better, it was only proper to jump into the footman's tournament, and use some of the techniques she had picked up on the Galmar plain.  Before the signal was given for the melee to begin, she spied Zorin.    She was easily handling the petty lords and peasant heroes trying to make their mark, but Zorin, his speed was preternatural.  Soon the field had been whittled down to the two of them, and it took every ounce of gumption to avoid his blows.  Fate caught up eventually, and she slunk to the ground in defeat.  As Zorin celebrated his victory, Cecelia removed her heavy helm to reveal the truth to her friend.  The tournament grounds roared even louder as all the Trogs poured into the yard to reunited with their lost comrade.

With news of the diabolical plot to murder Lord Tedmund, whose body was finally recovered near the Abbey, the Baron of Vadevincsky's brother, Lord Edrin has assumed the title of Baron.   His rule shows little change compared to his sibling.  

The Trogs are reuinited, and tales of daring-do in far off lands discussed.   But after a moment of rest and contemplation, it was time to embark on a new journey.  Their deeds had developed a reputation, the smackdown by the slavers, their mark of shame. Now was the time for the Trogs moment to shine in the darkest moments of the history of the Mer Kasp.

Next: Episode #39:  Red Arrow

Monday, May 16, 2016

(Kickstarter) Age of Cthulhu 9: The Lost Expedition

Goodman Games has launched another Kickstarter for its Age of Cthulhu line for Call of Cthulhu:  Age of Cthulhu 9: The Lost Expedition. by Jon Hook.


Like it's previous AoC Kickstarter, this one will be a hardcover, with a pdf copy available.  All previous AoC books are available to add-on in hardcopy or pdf form.

I'm grabbing the $9 pdf, as the $25 harcover ($31 with shipping) of a single adventure/campaign just doesn't seem worth it. 

I pledged for the hardcover for Age of Cthulhu 8: Starfall Over the Plateau of Leng, also written by Mr Hook, and I was underwhelmed.  I'd like to think that I share Hook's sensibilities as a Keeper, but like many of AoC books, I just feel uninspired reading it. 

One thing I did feel inspired by was his Transatlantic Terror scenario, which was a stretch goal for Starfall.  That will be added to a CoC session shortly (and should be added to your pdf collection for only $4 on this Kickstarter).  And since I'm stuck on Arthur Conan Doyle and other turn of the century pulp stories The Lost Expedition looks to be right in my wheelhouse.

 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Viscount Takes New York

Wednesday was Maja's birthday, so the whole family took the day off, boarded a bus, and spent a day in New York City.   Our main destination:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 




Of course with my wife and two girls, ages 5 and 7, nothing is as easy as it seems.    We walked four blocks from the bus drop-off to catch a subway uptown.   My goal?  Get inside the Met and air conditioning (it was getting warm) and eat in one of the small cafeteria/luncheonettes in the building.  Overpriced but sit-down.  The others had different objectives, such as find playgrounds and wearing ourselves out before even getting to the steps of the museum.  Some hot dogs and ice cream from street vendors later, and we finally got in, a little slow in the step.
 
Lesson of Maja:  "New York City hot dogs are the best in the world, except for Mommy's."
 


 
We got through the entire Egyptian wing, the American Art work, and the Arms and Armor halls by the time everyone's feet hurt, so we did what every self-respecting tourist would do:  we went to the Ancient playground across the street for forty-five minutes.   Truth be told, I think Maja just needed to swing on the swings for awhile to recharge our batteries.



We rumbled behind the museum to see the statue of Alexander Hamilton (he didn't sing) and Cleopatra's needle, and wandered to the subway to head back to Time's Square and the Disney store and get back way too early for the bus.
 
Couple of things: 
New York has tons of diplomatic consulates and missions mixed in with all the other buildings.  It was neat to see a theatre, an apartment, the Consulate of the Philippines, then a sushi restaurant.  We walked found the Consulate-Missions for Greece, Ghana, and the UN Mission of Iraq (apparently the Myanmar mission didn't have it's flag out, so we missed that one). 
UN Mission of Iraq
I liked tokens so much better than a Metrocard for a day trip.  Mind you, I don't think I've been on a NYC subway for thirty years. 
 
Knowing she would be out on her birthday, Maja's teacher gave her her ceremonial "Happy Birthday" hat a day early to take to New York, and she wore up until she fell asleep on the bus on the way home.  Simply walking the streets  and subways, we had a dozen random people wish her a happy birthday, on top of the museum staff, vendors, etc.  Of course, a trip to the Disney store put her Happy Birthdays from the dozens to the hundreds.  Disney is evil and expensive, but they are a benevolent evil that knows how to keep their subjects happy (and spending).  
 
Movies on the Bus:  The Intern (solid)  and Love the Coopers (a great ensemble cast, fantastic acting in some vignettes, but as a whole the movie was a surreal mess. There were multiple references to Lime Jell-O, so I'd like to think I knew what the writer/director wanted to accomplish, but just couldn't pull off.
 



Big fan of a bus trip to NYC.  We should probably plan a few more trips in the future.  It's cheaper than driving in, and far less stressful.  Statue of Liberty - Ground Zero here we come!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Gnome Swiss 3rd Engineering Corps

Outside of Millie's Dragon and a Giant Skeleton, it has been a miserable month for painting.  Real life stinks and going to bed at a decent hour instead of going downstairs to work on projects kept me less tired, but equally grumpy. 
 
Even with this week's trip to New York City and a flurry of other activities, I've descended the stairs to finish a few figures. 
 
First are six figures to near closer to the completion of the vaunted Swiss 3rd Engineering Corps for Gnome Wars.

Swiss gnomes are world-renown for the mining and tunneling skills.  The 1st Engineers are quite proficient and efficient in their craft, handling nearly all the duties necessary for the Swiss Army.    That relegates the 2nd Engineers to primarily a reserve status, many times planning and coordinating the projects for the 1st. 

That leaves the third and final group of engineers.  The 3rd is filled with gnomes who didn't meet the more stringent requirements of the 1st and 2nd, and the children of union workers.   Many times this unit is loaned out to the Ministry of the Interior and given the task of repairing roads all across the country, hence their attire. 

The unit is usually equipped with a larger group of melee (digging) weapons that associated.  The few rifles are given to gnomes whose only orders are to block the portion of the road being worked on and stand perfectly still.    A single Cheesethrower is attached to each workgroup, to fill in the larger potholes.  The cheese only lasts for three to four months, but that ensures job security. 

I haven't finished the two NCOs that fill out the unit.  Their pole arms and puffy sleeves are not cooperating with the paint scheme.  I've decided to push them to the back of the current painting queue.
 
I'm also almost finished with Ewe Cowles, part of the RAFM Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Miniatures Kickstarter that finally arrived at my house last month. 
 
 
Her larger scale would make her a WNBA player when compared to my other 32mm+ figures, if it weren't for the fact that she's dangerously thin, lithe might be a better word.  The giant slot base does not help things either.  I may be forced to remount all the miniatures on mdf bases, but first I need to redo those eyes.  Eyes aren't my strong suit, but I reverted back to a technique that was acceptable painting Ral Parthas in my parent's basement in 1991.  I blame the alcoholic root beer.
Rear view.  You catch spy the Swiss NCOs hiding in the back.
Ewe will make her gaming debut soon as Lena Harding, semi-competent starlet with an annoying pet in the Savage Showdown Pulp game with the girls.

Next Up:  Some leftover Egyptian statuary, some more CoC minis (Lena needs a driver!), and I start to organize and paint the 30+ mouslings I already have for my Rat-na-Rok game.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lego WW2 Battles

Despite the great advances in brick technology, I've never been anything close to a rabid Lego fan.   The custom sets are way too expensive, and I had an awesome time as a kid with just some old  red and white Legos and a set of glow-in-the-dark third party bricks.
 
However, I was not aware of the Lego community that makes stop-action war movies. 


 

A Collected Playlist of Lego WW2 Videos

So far the Civil War (non-Marvel) and WW1 battles I've found have been much lower quality. 

The internet, it's an amazing tool.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Last of My Birthday Spoils


My wife likes to extend the kids' birthdays throughout the month, sort of like a beloved Communist dictator.   Cake on the birthday, an extended family party, and then a grand gala for all their little friends.  As Maja has turned seven this month, I guarantee you that I'll rant about the festivities (and I LIKE all of her activities). 

However, my own April birthday has appeared to stretch into a life of its own.  My lovely sister sent a two part gift:  an awesome card (see below), but also a copy of Survive: Escape from Atlantis.  It comes with shark fin playing pieces!

 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Maja's Birthday and Free Comic Book Day

Today is the day that a few more white hairs pop out in my beard, and the line that creases my forehead gets a little bit deeper.  

It's Maja's 7th Birthday.

I know I'm not as exhausted as I was this time last year, as we drove down to Florida for the week at Disney, but the birthday celebration month my wife schedules for these kids is a wee bit outrageous. 
 

Who knew she liked Tibetan culture... and Yetis?
After two marathon driving sessions last year, we decided to let someone else handle that this year.  This morning, we're taking a bus to Manhattan and spending the whole day at what every 7-year-old girl wants.
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The aftermath of Tibetan culture... and Yetis. 
 
She is my kid, afterall, and the Met has a great Egyptian exhibit.   Not sure what my wife and little Millie will take interest in, but between this, Cleopatra's Needle behind the Met, and the random statue of Alexander Hamilton which continue the 27 million questions she has about him,  I think she'll be satisfied with the outing.

Sorry kiddo, not luggage is allowed in the Met.
She has been my partner-in-crime since she was born and recently she has begun constantly testing my status of know-it-all Dad.  The "Why is the sky blue" questions are a piece of cake compared to the latest barrage of questions about economics, religion, evolution, and the previously mentioned Hamilton (I think I did my first report on Hamilton in 3rd grade, so she's going down the same road.  Just don't slum it with James Buchanan in 4th, Sweetie.)
 
If I only knew how Fall-In '15 would turn out.... Spoilers:  It was awesome.
Of course, I have questions pertaining to what they're actually teaching her at school.  One bedtime conversation was about everything they learned about Harriet Tubman, except the little fact of what slavery actually was.    Not exactly the type of bedtime story I imagined when we moved into the house. 
My wife always gets amazed/depressed when she realizes what little people they've become.  Maja is becoming a young lady far faster than even I would like her to.  I fear one day too soon that she doesn't want to play silly games with Dad, but I will always have the epic tales to brag about to other gamers. 
 
And despite my love for averaging more than a post per day each month, I might as well add our foray this weekend into Free Comic Books Day. 
 
This was the fourth year I herded the kids into the car and travelled to Rubber Mallet Comics for Free Comic Book Day.  FCBD Saturdays haven't changed much or the years, including yet another hour wait in traffic of weekend "Emergency Bridge Repair.  When we finally got there, some of the free comics that were displayed under a tent outside the store had been picked clean, but Millie got her three, Maja only wanted the new DC Animated Girls book, and I snagged three, all of which were awful.  Hey, free never meant "good!" 
 
Inside, the store's tiny confines probably violated the fire marshall's limit, but no one seemed to mind too much.  Millie got Strawberry Shortcake #1, which amusingly, smelled like strawberries, and Maja won favorite daughter award, by finding the latest Scooby Doo Team-Up which just happened to have "The Shazam Family" in it.   Not just Captain, Mary, and Jr (no CM3, hoo-ray!), but also Uncle Marvel, Talking Tawney, and a reference to Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny!   The story is classic Golden Age style with the Scooby Gang mixed in.  Of course, certain characters with catch phrases are granted the Power of Shazam when needed, but it was far more fun than the covers of all the other comics displayed. 
 
Reading is fundamental, but silence is golden.