Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Using Ethnic Borders Rather than Geographic in Hackmaster.

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Pinterest.  While it's predominantly a place to store visual links to recipes, fashion, and funny memes, I have some use from it pulling up 1920s vehicles for Cthulhu, ancient Egyptian artifacts for Maja, and most recently, cool maps from around the internet. 

After years of designing maps for my homebrew campaign world of Georic that just didn't match, I ported everything over to the alt-Earth Epic of Aerth from Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys/Mythus game.  The Kingdom of Crosedes was patterned after Medieval France, Wyrmnal - the Vikings, Ras-Prythax - the Holy Roman Empire, and so forth.  With the additional principalities, duchies, fiefdoms, etc, I adjusted them to sometimes fit, sometimes expand the world around them.  Throw in demi-humans holdings, and it's a hodgepodge of geopolitical fun!

Here's the latest map of the continent of Talaishia on the world of Georic.  It might look familiar.

I've largely kept the borders along geographic or linguistic lines, but with this map, I've begun figuring out some divisions along ethnic and cultural lines. 



Adding in gnomes, dwarves, elves, and halflings (plus gnome titans) complicate these lines, but if there is a collapse of a kingdom, I'll know how to start piecing things back together.


World of Georic - Continent of Talaishia - 1148CY
It's time to reconsider things far away from the Mer Kasp.   Do the former Atlantean colonies on the Iberian peninsula look to consolidate power?  Does Alois pledge loyalty to Crosedes or Lygresse?    Will Southern Crosdes look to rise up like the upstart Duchy of Sworin did in 1138?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

(Gnome News) Star Trek: Next Gen Gnomes

ThinkGeek has five new garden gnomes dressed as Star Trek: Next Gen characters, ready for your holiday purchases. 




Ranging between 8 and 10 inches high, the Borg gnome might make a nice metallic statue to the god of the gnomish tinker. 


The gnomes sell for $24.99 a piece.

(Kickstarter) Disposable Heroes 2

Brigade Games has recently launched a Kickstarter for a new edition of Disposable Heroes, under the Iron Ivan Games moniker.


Not a WW2 player, but my only question would be how big a book will this be?  I know eight dollars for US shipping is getting pretty standard, but I want a book with sizable heft for $30 plus S&H. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

SATLOF 2016!

When people think of the holidays, some think of shopping, some the festive atmosphere, others a nostalgic winter wonderland of youth.

I think SATLOF.

The idea of the Saturday After Thanksgiving Left Over Feast (SATLOF) was borrowed from one of our college friend's FATLOF back home.  Bring over leftovers, consume alcohol, and have a grand old time. 

For us, it's evolved over the years, to where our friend Nate essentially cooks a Second Thanksgiving dinner for us and we simply bring a small dish or desert.   The rampant alcoholism has evolved with a trashcan punch filled with any booze available in a plastic bottle (classy!) to a case or two of some craft brewed stuff, because dammit, we have to sober up and drive our wives and kids home so we can so family stuff on Sunday.

What a drag it is getting old.

This year was the smallest gathering in recent memory, as all the child-less friends abandoned us for numerous reasons.  Six kids ran amuck as we devoured the spread, and the men slowly went downstairs to play games. 

I had gotten Survive!  Escape from Atlantis as a birthday present from my sister earlier this year, and to ensure future quality gifts, I figured SATLOF was a great place to crack open the game and learn the rules. 

Atlantis begins to fall into the sea.
 PRO:  The rules were ridiculously simple, and even specifically covered the 'exception' situations that came up.  It's fast, everything took just over an hour.

CONS:  It's only for four players, which isn't great for a regular SATLOF, but for the four of us on Saturday, it was perfect.  Also, the whirlpools were beyond devastating.
The last survivors get to safety.
 With such a fast game, we though we could knock out a few other quick beer and pretzel games, but the youngsters had other ideas. 

Steve and I tried to run a game of Zombie Dice game for players with an average age of under 5.  It was a beautiful disaster, since only one player ever stopped before getting three shotgun blasts.  Young Ben won with a whopping one brain!

Zombie Dice
Zombie Dice devolved into a game of basement hide and seek, and pretty soon, it was time to get home so my wife could get to work in the morning. 


For the small, intimate affair that it was, SATLOF was perfect.  One day we'll go back to Drunken Diplomacy and trash can punch, but with a house full of kids, it's a higher priority to keep broken bones and bruises to a minimum.


Or at least save them for Drunken Diplomacy.


On the highest point, I haven't seen my friend Scott since his wedding, and he brought me a present, that he had picked up just after the wedding. 
Christmas is coming, and I have projects to paint!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CoC #41: Masks of Nyarlathotep #21 The Long Train Home

July 16, 1925 - Leaving Tokyo Harbor
For the three investigators who survived Grey Dragon Island, Dr Bob Wintermute, Steven O'Hara, and David Kavida, their reunion inside a cabin aboard a steamship heading back the States was one of bittersweet confusion.  The Imperial Japanese Navy (and other agencies, possibly American) had spewed forth disinformation amongst them while the trio had been separated. 

A few rounds of Manhattan Juleps, and everyone was up to speed...  and dreading their questioning upon their return to the States.

July 27, 1925 - Honolulu, Hawaii
The ship arrived in Honolulu for an overnight stop before continuing on to San Francisco.  The voyage had been beneficial towards the health and knowledge of everyone.  Steven wasn't regaining his hair, but he was getting color and putting on some weight.  He spent many hours on the deck, fleshing out his physics papers that were overdue back at Columbia. 

Professor Wintermute had come upon an interesting discovery from his satchels.  The recreational reading of history books that the Japanese had given to him during his imprisonment had been tampered with at some point.  Instead of pedestrian texts, it covers had been rebound on a series of Japanese mythology.  The translation from the original Japanese stories was incredibly rough, but many of the stories were of Sakusan "Fish Men" who could bless or curse a village.

August 4, 1925 - San Francisco, California
The investigators were shocked with the speed of moving through customs.  No one questioned them about any of their activities.  They were able to purchase tickets for New York (via Chicago).  Steven purchased a typewriter to finish his papers aboard the train. 

Dr Bob immediately went to purchase guns, by any means necessary.   Welcome to America.

August 10, 1925, New York City
The cross-country trip was uneventful.  With some typing help by David, Steven was able to finish both papers. 
During a layover in Chicago, the latest issue of The New Yorker with David's story, arrived on the newsstands.  While David could pick out the areas that the Japanese government and editor tinkered with, it largely embellished the evil of the New China Army and the Triads, while painting the Japanese as the only civilized nation that noticed their actions. 

O'Hara and Kavida got off at Pennsylvania Station and said their goodbyes to the Professor. Wintermute refused to leave the train, so as to fulfill the promises made to certain individuals to not step foot in the city.  Kavida grabbed him a few newspapers and left for the The New Yorker, amid much fanfare.  Despite a deliberate pro-Japan bent, his was the only detailed first-person story of the tragedy in Shanghai.  A Pulitzer would not be entirely out of the question. 

O'Hara went back to his brownstone.  Despite not making any mortgage payments, he only needed to tear off a few shut-off notices to entered his home.  Nothing had changed inside, save a thicker layer of dust.  He travelled over to Columbia to drop off his papers, whose concepts surprised his colleagues as much as his disappearance grated them.  Within the week, his utilities were turned back on and he discovered additional funding within the physics department, some oddly dedicated directly to him, saved his home. 

August 10, 1925, Arkham, Massachusetts
The professor's train reached Boston, and he took the last train of the day to Arkham.  He arrived at dusk and walked to his house, lugging his luggage behind him.

Wintermute worked up the hill from the station to his home in the twilight, forced to fumble his keys as he ascended his steps in the dark.   All the damage to the home from the cultists six months ago had been repaired, save some scorching damage on the wood floor in the foyer.  His mailed being held by the University, professor had little to open up his house, although he did turn on all the lights and checked all the closets, just to ensure no unexpected guests were lurking within the shadows.  Satisfied for his own safety, he opened up a few windows, poured himself a drink and took a seat in his parlor.   

Breathing a sigh of relief, Bob glanced at something inserted between the New York Times and the latest issue of The New Yorker he had picked up while in NYC.   The insert was older pages of the Times, specifically the obituaries of August 1st.  Circled in red pencil was the expanded obituary of one Edgar Bancroft, US Ambassador to Japan, who had passed suddenly on July 27th.  His remains were to be transported to San Pedro, California via the Japanese cruiser Tama, under the command of Rear-Admiral Isoge Taro. 

Beneath the circled obit, was a short note in red...

"I took care of it for you.  You owe me."
- A.M.
In the week that followed at Arkham, Wintermute eased back into the sedentary lifestyle of academia.  As he perused his collected mail in his office, he came upon a fancy engraved letter from Columbia University.  Inside was an invitation to a gala to celebration a large endowment towards the university's physics department.   The invitation specified the genius of Steven O'Hara's research... and the name of the bestower of the endowment:

Ambrose Mogens,  New York billionaire philanthropist.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Apathy of the New Releases (Dec '16)

My Want List
Reaper
Halloween Knight (RPR 01449) ................................................................................ $9.99
Reaper Convention Mousling (RPR 01586) .............................................................. $9.99

My Money-Is-No-Object Wand List
Games Workshop
Blood Bowl ............................................................................................................ $99.00


The Imaginary Store List (The Pegleg Gnome)
Asmodee
Conan:  Crossbowman Expansion .......................................................................... $24.99
Conan: Yogah of Yag Expansion ........................................................................... $24.99


Avalanche Press
Second World War at Sea:  Sea of Iron .................................................................. $79.99


Brain Games
Logic Cards:  Kids .................................................................................................. $ 5.95


Breaking Games
Zombie Shuffle ....................................................................................................... $10.00


Catalyst Game Labs
Shadowrun RPG:  Court of Shadows Ltd Ed HC .................................................. $74.99


Coolminiornot
Cthulhu in the House .............................................................................................. $24.99
The Godfather:  The Board Game .......................................................................... $79.99


Cubicle 7
Call of Cthulhu:  World War Cthulhu - Cold War - Section 46 HC ...................... $24.99
Doctor Who Timeclash Starter Set ......................................................................... $29.99
Doctor Who RPG:  Deluxe Dice Set ...................................................................... $14.99
D&D RPG:  Adventures in Middle-Earth Loremaster's Guide HC ....................... $39.99


Fantasy Flight Game
Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition:  Beyond the Threshold .................................. $39.95
Eldritch Horror -  The Dreamlands ........................................................................ $49.95
Star Wars RPG:  Force and Destiny:  Ghost of Dathomir HC ............................... $29.95


Gale Force Nine
Star Trek Ascendancy:  Galaxy Play Mat  (3' x 3') ................................................ $39.99


Games Workshop
Seriously, 20+ years after people were screaming for them, you're finally releasing overdone Genestealer Cult figures for 40K? 


Hawk Wargames
Dropzone Commander 2 - Player Starter Set ......................................................... $99.00
Dropzone Commander Core Rulebook .................................................................. $30.00
In a world where Battlefleet Gothic is insanely expensive,  DC seems reasonable.  In the imaginary world where the store exists, I might try and stock the entire line.  


Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Movie Pack Gold Edition Deck Display
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Pendulum Domination Structure Deck Display
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Raging Tempest Boosters


Osprey Publishing
Bolt Action Campaign - Battle of the Bulge ........................................................ $30.00
Modern Russia Army 1992-2016 ......................................................................... $19.00
The Pikeman's Lament ......................................................................................... $19.00


Paizo Publishing
Pathfinder Adv Card Game Mummy's Mask Adv Deck 5 - Slave Trenches ...... $19.99
Pathfinder RPG:  Campaign Setting Lands of Conflict ....................................... $22.99
Pathfinder RPG: Pawns Villains Codex Box ....................................................... $44.99
Pathfinder RPG: AP - Ironfang Invasion Part 1 - Trail of the Hunted ................. $24.99
Pathfinder RPG: Flip Map - Bigger Ship ............................................................. $19.99
Pathfinder RPG: Map Pack Desert Sites............................................................... $14.99
Pathfinder RPG:  Player Companion Psychic Anthology .................................... $14.99


Palladium Books
Rifter #75 and #76 ............................................................................................. $13.95 each


Panini America
Dragonball Z:  Awakening 2016
Starters and Boosters


Pelgrane Press
13th Age RPG:  The Crown Commands Map Folio ............................................. $19.95


Pokémon USA
Pokémon TCG  The Best of Ex Tins Twelve Pack Assortment Box 2016
Pokémon TCG  Break Evolution Box Featuring Arcanine
Pokémon TCG  Mythical Meloetta Collection Box
Pokémon TCG  Snorlax GX Box
Pokémon TCG  Sun and  Moon Theme Decks
Pokémon TCG  Volcanion Magearna Mythical Collection Box


Posthuman Studios
Eclipse Phase  After the Fall ................................................................................ $19.99
Eclipse Phase Core Rulebook .............................................................................. $49.99
Eclipse Phase Firewall ......................................................................................... $49.99
Eclipse Phase Rimward ....................................................................................... $44.99
Eclipse Phase  Transhuman ................................................................................. $49.99
Eclipse Phase X Risks ......................................................................................... $49.99
Eclipse Phase  Gatecrashing ...............................................................................  $44.99
Eclipse Phase Sunward The Inner System .........................................................   $44.99
Eclipse Phase  Transhumanity's Fate Campaign Setting ....................................  $19.99
Eclipse Phase Morph Recognition Guide ............................................................ $44.99
Might not be a good idea to stock the entire line at one time if you want to, say, pay your utilities for the month...


Reaper Miniatures
Master Series Paints:  High Density Set 3  (#37-54) ........................................... $49.99
Best of Sophie #1 ................................................................................................. $99.00
Best of Sophie #2 ................................................................................................. $99.00
Bonesylvanians #1 ............................................................................................... $99.00
Bonesylvanians #2 ............................................................................................... $99.00
Reapercon Sophie 2016 ....................................................................................... $14.99
Troll Slayer Sophie .............................................................................................. $ 7.29


Rio Grande Games
Dominion, 2nd Edition ......................................................................................... $44.95
Dominion, 2nd Edition Update Pack .................................................................... $14.95
Dominion Intrigue, 2nd Edition ............................................................................ $39.95
Dominion Intrigue Update Pack ........................................................................... $14.95
Power Grid: The Card Game ................................................................................ $19.95


Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin Guest Artist Edition  (Edwin Huang) .................................................. $29.95
Munchkin Apocalypse Judge Dreadd Blister Pack ............................................... $ 5.95


Troll Lord Games
5th Edition Adventures:  A0  The Rising Knight .................................................. $ 9.99
5th Edition Adventures:  A1 Assault on Blacktooth Ridge .................................. $ 9.99
5th Edition Adventures:  A2 Slag Heap ................................................................ $ 9.99
5th Edition Adventures:  A3 The Wicked Cauldron ............................................  $ 9.99
5th Edition Adventures:  A4  Usurpers of the Fell Axe ......................................   $ 9.99


Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering:  Modern Masters 2017


Wizkids
D&D Fantasy Minis: Icons of the Realms Epic Level Starter Set ........................ $24.99
Marvel Heroclix Avenger/Defenders War
Booster Bricks, Dice and Token Packs, and Marvel Knight Fast Forces
Marvel Heroclix Guardians of the Galaxy (Gravity Feed)
Pathfinder Battles Crown of Fangs Brick (8)


Z-Man Games
Carcassonne Expansion 3:  The Princess and the Dragon New Edition ..............  $17.99















































Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The First Lost Weekend of Winter

This past weekend was supposed to be a productive one.  The wife was working each day and outside of a basketball game for Maja we had zero plans.  Unfortunately a freak chance struck.  Saturday was incredible weather in the afternoon, so the children never set foot inside of the house after the basketball game.  I turned to a raking leaves and cutting back brush for the afternoon.  As my wife came home, ominous clouds and gusty winds appeared, so much so, that when I drove down the mountain to pick up pizza, breezy drizzle in the valley turned into biting winds and snow on the drive back up. 


I had planned at least a Blue Martian game Sunday using Legions of Steel, but THREE INCHES of unexpected snow forced the snow pants and gloves to emerge, and the children left for friends' houses, leaving Dad and a table, ready to play. 


Beyond being abandoned by frolicking children, my phone decided to finally give up the ghost.  It was an unexpected expense that we could luckily absorb right now, but the horror I received when I discovered that I was to last person to realize that Google no longer supported Blogger on the iPhone!  (along with a host of other apps I used).    Without even a netbook at home right now, it had been my easy way to upload pictures at home, instead of wasting valuable lunch time editing them at work.    On top of that, my stream-of-consciousness podcast for my audience of one, "ViscountEric Rambles on About Gaming While Driving Home From Work"  was recorded on the old phone and although there's lots of dead air and repetition, there's also over forty hours of recording that I can't access. 


After two mini-heartbreaks this weekend, I've been looking at the calendar, wondering what I can get done for the last few weeks of the year, and when I'm going to have the chance to do it. 


My games with the girls have not one, not two, but THREE open campaigns that need to wrap up before we move onto new storylines.
  • Legions of Steel - Blue Martians:  It was only supposed to be four scenarios, but we just can't around to getting the little fellas home (or shot to pieces).  The got through the first two games admirably, and their new leader, Gronk seemed intent on getting everyone to the launch pad to go home.   I have two pieces of terrain that I need to finish up. 
  • Heroclix - TMNT:   Despite the occasional random pack, the girls Heroclix craze was probably short-lived because it was premature.    The base game can be boring with the card stats, and the card abilities are a bit complicated for my gaming audience.  Still, I'd like to see the epic  finale from the Mouser Mayhem boxed set concluded
  • Savage World - Pulp Egypt:  With so many cool Pulp stories, and Maja's enthusiasm still on high, I wanted to finish up the first twelve-scenario "Volume 1" story arc before the end of the year.  That meant playing  FIVE Pulp games in this Fall (including the holiday game as "Annual #1")  before looking at a different storyline.  Unfortunately, I've been  extremely lucky to get in the two games I did, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, the holiday game might be the only one I can sneak in.  Time to paint up that sleigh I bought at Fall-In!
Over on the role-playing with grown-ups side, we have our traditional SATLOF (Saturday After Thanksgiving Left-Over Feast) on Saturday, and we can discuss just what we're doing in a post-Cthulhu world (the game, not Cthulhu actually waking up).   Since no one else has volunteered to run more than a one-shot, here's my list of ideas, in order of preference. 
  1. "Home" using Basic D&D - If we want quick D&D fantasy, this might be my salvation.  Quick, dirty, with a few different storylines
  2. "Burning Trogs Redux"  We need a consistent schedule for Hackmaster, but the first few sessions of the restarted campaign are ready.
  3. Space 1889 - Snagging up this at Fall-In! has been a revelation.  Playing some classic pre-Steampunk Steampunk (?) would be a fun palette cleanser.
  4. Savage Rifts - Although I have stuff plotted out, the more I read the rules, the more I see where Savage Worlds begin to falter. 
  5. Talislanta/Omni - simple system, but we'd be wasting time getting used to the system, instead of immersing ourselves. 
No need for yet another poll, we'll hash it out like geeky men.


The painting table gets mixed up a bit, and not all of it is mini-related.  The remaining mice for the Mepacon kid's game will get packed up, as will a number of miscellaneous figures.   Blue Martians and Pulp Figures will remain, as I shift towards painting German gnomes for the Cold Wars Mega-Game (and the whatever I'm using them for Mepacon Spring).


But before all of that, I need to clean up the basement, get the Christmas items ready, and perhaps brew some beer.
Me scraping off the cars on Sunday....

Thursday, November 17, 2016

(TBT) Mepacon 1 and 2, Circa 2000

After fifteen years, Mepacon has been known to drop a few photo albums around the convention site to stoke a little nostalgia in the long-time attendees. This Fall's edition had Mepacon I-III:

I was such a young pup in my later 20's


Mepacon I:  Fall 2000, Wind Gap Legion Hall - That's me running a pirate themed Hackmaster game
 


Mepacon 2, Spring 2001, Wind Gap Legion Hall.  I'm running B1 with Hackmaster before the HM version of B1 had been released.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CoC #40 - Masks #20 - Writer's Cell Block

June 26, 1925  Hiroshima Naval Base, Japan

After a lengthy detainment aboard the Japanese Cruiser Natori, the vessel dockedat port somewhere on the Japanese mainland.  The investigators were escorted off the vessel and separated.  For David Kavida, journalist for the New Yorker, the next three days were almost as bad as some of the worst prisons in the American South that he had investigated.  Food was given sparingly and "official government representatives" who spoke barely passable English, constantly interviewed him at all hours of the night.  Yet, not at any time did they even lay a finger upon him.  The interviews could radically change for no observable reason.  Perfectly friendly conversation could turn aggressive, while other times the agent (and a translator) appeared to be playing a very bad version of good cop/bad cop. 
Through all this, Captain Isoge Taro was nowhere to be seen.

The lines of questioning were pretty straightforward.   And Kavida's answers were pretty succinct: 
*"What was your purpose on the island?"   To research for my article on the NCA I would like a representative from the American embassy please I am a journalist on assignment. 
*"What was the purpose of the New China Army on the island?"   Still unknown as we were separated and merely envoys for the Japanese interests which I believe were served as requested.  I would like a representative from the american embassy please I am a journalist on assignment.
*"Were those objectives met?"  I could not say since we didn't land with them or interact with them on the island. We were separated. I would like a representative from the american embassy please I am a journalist on assignment.
*"What was the purpose of the reading materials you had on your person/back at the warehouse?" Any materials I had were research materials for my article of any other materials I could not comment. I would like a representative from the american embassy please I am a journalist on assignment.
*"Where was the rest of the device?"
Anything we stumbled upon the Japanese army confiscated to my knowledge. The device in the center if the volcano was confiscated in its entirety and was seized. I am not sure what else you are looking for but i am not a scientist nor someone who could understand that device or its workings.  I would like a representative from the american embassy please I am a journalist on assignment.


June 29, 1925  Hiroshima Naval Base, Japan
After three days, the entire attitude of the Japanese changed.  He was manhandled and thrown into a barracks shower.  Upon cleaning up, he was escorted much less harshly to a barracks.  Half a room was dedicated to a plush cell into a full sized bed, upholstered chairs, and a desk with the typewriter and a stack of paper.

Once secured, a Japanese naval officer entered.  Without introductions he stated that the American embassy was aware of the situation, and was focused on getting American doctors to treat an illness that Steven O'Hara had contracted.  He then provided a piece of official-looking stationary from the US Embassy in Tokyo apologizing for the delay with meeting with a representative.  They were aware of who he was and had contacted The New Yorker on his behalf.  It was signed by the American Ambassador Edgar Bancroft. 
A short succession of telegrams from his editor at The New Yorker was passed to him.  Some were formal requests to the embassy requesting consul and the Japanese government for his immediate release.  Others personally directed towards him wondered for his safety, while the last  few asked for an update on his next story.

Once David finished reading, the naval officer passed a bulging portfolio through the bars.  "We understand in your interview with Captain Taro that you had an interest in the New China Army as a group of terror.  The Emporer agrees with this stance, so if it pleases you, we have provided you with intelligence documents about that group and other Communist and criminal organizations in Shanghai.   It should match and supplement your excellent journalist skills.   We believe that after you read it, you should come to a favorable attitude of my country's actions, present situation excluded.  If you need anything, the guards will pass the information to me and it will be granted within reason.  I only ask that you begin writing your experience in Shanghai."


July 4, 1925  Hiroshima Naval Base, Japan
After having some initial doubts, Kavida  finally poured through the documents provided.  The information did largely match the few leads he had followed.  Their were even a few poorly-worded references to occultisms in other groups that surprised him. 

On Independence Day, a representative from the American Embassy, a Mr Metcalf arrived.   After providing credentials, he explained that O'Hara had been taken in US Navy custody to be treated for an unknown malady.  It was simply a matter of time until the US and Japanese governments hashed through the details causing his unfortunate detention. 

July 8, 1925, Hiroshima Naval Base, Japan
A few days and multiple revisions later, David handed his second copy of his article to a guard to be sent over the wire to New York City.

July 9, 1925, Hiroshima Naval Base, Japan
Confirmation of his article's receipt by David's editor was received to his cell.

July 15, 1925 Hiroshima Station, Japan
In the evening, guards demanded he pack up his belongings:  He was finally going home.  He was escorted to a railway station and was the lone civilian in an otherwise empty baggage car.  In the early hours of the morning they arrived... in Tokyo.  The soldiers/sailors guarding him escorted him to a rather luxurious hotel, where he was allowed to bathe, eat, and catch some rest. 

July 16, 1925 Tokyo Harbor, Japan
David's guards escorted him from the hotel directly to an ocean liner.  The guard's unlocked his cabin door, tossed in his personal effects, and shoved him inside, shutting the door behind him.  A very surprised (and bald) Steven O'Hara stood up from his bed.
Soon Dr Wintermute would make his appearance and the survivors of Nyarlathotep could begin the long voyage back to the United States. 






Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Mike Lung Gallery #44

Trying to clear out my e-mail of things large and small, I came upon another entry from GwtG Correspondent Mike Lung. 

First off is another foray in Alternative Armies, this time using Otterman Empire figures to represent Pathan Mongoose tribesmen. 

Teddy Bear, Otterman/Pathan Jezzail, Gnome British Highlander.
With just this picture the Ottermen remind me of a very martial Bear in the Big Blue House, but it does fill a gaping hole in the Gnome Wars line, and allows a lot more flexibility playing the Northwest Frontier.

The next picture is Mike's idea of beat-up or unfinished figures. Flockless bases, figures scuffed from play, oh the horror!

I present his Band of Furry Brothers, figures included ranging from Brigade (gnome), Essex (gnome), Oathsworn (badger and two moles), Dark Sword (hare ranger), and a shrew (from the Mice and Mystics board game.)


Monday, November 14, 2016

Mepacon 31 After Action Report

This past weekend was Mepacon 31 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

It was my second straight three-day appearance at my local con and I was quite happy with everything overall.

My plan on leaving work early on back-to-back Fridays fell completely apart, with my boss at off-site meetings, our senior rep calling out sick, and half the staff  either suffering pregnancy nausea or had someone in hospice.  The fact that I got up to the Hilton for the dinner reception with a few minutes to spare had more to do with surprisingly clear traffic than putting out work fires in a timely manner. 

Friday Night:  I decorated my GM screen appropriately and set up for my TOON: Cthulhu Comes to Springfield 2: Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos game, only to find the table had been double-booked with a full CoC table of gamers!

It might be time to retire the TOON game.  It's a hit and miss game, with either full tables, or no one, plus my Simpsons-Fu is only good up until the movie, so I don't know what jokes and tropes are valid or tired.  With too many issues with kids pushing the envelope, the M-Rating/Adults Only moniker on the event description probably scared away potential players as well.   Plus, it looks like TOON will never be a supported game ever again. 

My disappointment was quickly erased, as I took three steps back and got pulled into a game of Fiasco.

I came to the realization that I essentially run the kid's game like a session of Fiasco, usually with slightly better chance of success.   The theme of game was based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Homecoming Queen election and involved vampires, deep ones, plenty of necromancy, Flamenco dancing, and a possessed Ferrari.   I enjoyed it.  It was fun to be vocal as a player, and sometimes it was fun to sit back and watch the others act out the scene.  There was also a LOT of dancing involved

I snagged up Maja's t-shirt and grabbed Taco Bell on the way home.

Saturday:
I got Maja up, stopped for a giant breakfast, since she  has developed hollow leg syndrome and is eating me out of house and home.  We got her registered and started Mousling Fantasy. 

The stripped down Savage Worlds rules worked well in a game involving disappearing gems, a dance party, ice cream, and a kidnapped princess.    I removed the wild die on traditional roles, saving it for only times when players wanted to try something heroic  
No Giant Monkeys Were Harmed in Running Mousling Fantasy.
We wrapped up early enough to grab lunch at Pappas, a few games of Millipede, and browse comics at Comics on the Square. 


Battletech



We got back just in time to drop Maja off at the kid's LARP.   To keep up with the dystopian post-apocalyptic future, the projects and games all had to do with global warming and escaping an unsustainable Earth.  Ultimately, they had to construct a space-ship to escape.

Constructing the space ship.
I had just enough time to grab my auction stuff and some minis before one of the staff members came out with Maja.  Apparently, one of the activities involved using small wooden tools and she had somehow managed to cut her finger right at the cubicle.   A little ice, a few hugs, and soon she was running back to fulfill her duties as the engineer of the spaceship.
Ready for Take-Off!
BattleTech Alpha Strike
The kid's LARP was so popular this year, that it ran a hour over into the next time slot, which happened to be my Mousling Fantasy #2 game.  With the heroes succeeding all their objectives in the first game, we collectively agreed to turn it into a monkey hunt.    Unfortunately, no kids from the LARP meant no players for my game.  Maja was actually quite distraught that "no one would play with us." 
That's a big monkey...
The Monkey Hunt may return for Mepacon 32, with a few teams of gnomes. 
The cupcake lady...
We hung around a bit, played some giant Jenga, snatched up some raffle tickets, and made a guess at the dice guess, before settling down in our chairs for the announcements and games auction.
Alpha Strike:  Lot's of mechs, less Battletech feel
The raffle and dice guess were busts for us, but I'm proud to say that Maja won the coloring contest for the second time.  I swear she's won more, but I forget that her sister won two years ago, we skipped the first two cons when they moved to Scranton, and Maja actually won the mini painting contest last year. 
A groovy dropship?
The auction was pretty decent, with a number of items choice items not making it out due to low buyout prices.  I managed to snag up yet another train game of some sort, plus a copy of Russian Scrabble for a buck. 
Maja was exhausted so we called it a night, packed up, and grabbed food before heading home. 
40K
Giant Jenga!
Sunday is always a tough day for a con, but I was happy to see a decent crowd for the morning session.  The TOON game was a bust, but I did jump into a Call of Cthulhu game (as a player!  A rarity indeed!)
The Keeper was running scenarios from Ripples From Carcosa and we played the Dark Ages one.   The kingdom was saved with some serious hand-waving, but we had a blast nonetheless.  One last stop for a Darth Chocolate cupcake for my wife and a side-trek to the FLGS in Wilkes-Barre and I was home for an afternoon of leaf raking.

Swag:  A couple of visits to the cupcake stand, a 2nd Edition Mystara supplement to the Montrous Compendium plus my auction wins made a lean con.  Over a long time, I watched the dealers evolve into a huge boardgame centric basis, but I've only seen a few choice item, or a few heavily discounted items move over the course of the weekend.  I spent more at my bi-annual trip to the comic book store. 
No matter what, I had a hoot, Maja's still wiped, and we're prepping for the next con.....
Next Con's Theme:  Gnomes and Fairies!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vintage Gnome Wars Books on eBay!

This eBay auction still has time on it, but the idea of picking up a  First Edition Copy of Gnome Wars for $25.00 plus $5.40 shipping from Noble Knight is quite amusing.


Vintage!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Some Legends From the Legions of Steel

With our Great National Nightmare Over (or just beginning, depending on your political predilections) let's get back to gaming!


Early this year I took the girls to a painting clinic at the FLGS, and with our overwhelming raffle, won a gift certificate for the painting service running the event.   I quickly assumed that he could take over some of my back-burner projects, namely my personalized characters for Legions of Steel.


Even before the Planetstorm Tabletop Rules for LOS had been released, I had been privy to some cool artwork of me as a UNE Pioneer.  Alas the story of my character in rulebook didn't have as happy an ending as most...
Figure 15.  Pioneer in Paladin PBA1E, Regimental HQ, 18th Powered Infantry Regiment.
Any trooper face with the daunting task of assaulting a heavily fortified position or fortifying a thinly defended one in the path of a determined Machine advance is extremely happy to see Pioneer troopers coming their way.

Grizzled veterans tell newbies that when the Pioneers show up, it's not a question of if things are going to be bad, but just how bad they will be.  For troopers of the 7th Powered Infantry Regiment's Lima Company, the arrival of the Pioneers proved to the very bad indeed.

Machine forces had taken three planets in the Goodwood system and wasted no time in digging in.  UNE Forces returned, determined to take back their own.  Landings on the outer planets of Marrakesh and Carpiquet initially went well, but soon bogged down.   Because Goodwood was such a "dirty" system, protected by an asteroid belt and a nigh-invulnerable base on one of Goodwood Prime's moonlets, UNE approach lanes were very restricted.  The Humans had a substantial numerical superiority, but traffic problems meant that they couldn't get it to the mud where is belonged.

Regardless, the attack must press on with the troops already in place.  Lima Company was one such unit, not exactly thrilled with the prospect of leading an assault, especially short-handed as they were. Wise to the ways of the army, they weren't actually expecting Pioneer support, but when a four-man detachment showed up they were quickly put to work.  The Pioneers worked like men possessed:  positioning smart-mines to cover the flanks of the assault, clearing advance lanes through a suspected minefield, and standing by with the demo charges ready to take out the bunkers that were the main objective. 

The advance began as scheduled, troops doing a bounding advance through the minefield.  Then the Machine mortars opened, hitting the line of advance with surgical precision: the advance faltered.  Three ESH's made a determined counter-attack, and the advance stalled.  Suddenly, smart-mines opened fire, ripping into the backs of the beleaguered humans, along with well-aimed blaster fire.  This proved too much for Lima Company.  They began to break and sections pulled out of position, heading for the rear.  As they were cut down, the company commander realized that the Pioneers were wolves in sheep's clothing - Machine infiltrators using jacked human PBA's.  This didn't save him or his command, who were wiped out to the last man, but at least he was able to transmit a warning about the new tactic and images of the traitors.

One such traitor was sapper Eric Jacobson, lost during the aftermath of the Vologorod campaign.  It was thought that the transport he and his comrades were on had been lost to a Fantasian raider, but it appears that the LOS was operating there in the hopes of causing dissension in the LOA.

The suit's markings had been left alone, it bears the Vologorod "totenkopf" and several personal inscriptions.  Three of the 'jacked' PBA's were destroyed in the battle, but Jacobson's PBA's was never recovered.  Except for a control module in the helmet, a heat source, and synthesizers to simulate a human occupant, the suits were empty.


They also did some very appropriate artwork for my friend (and fellow LOS demonstrator)  Wooly.



Figure 10.  Heavy Assault Trooper in Behemoth RXS, 2nd Co., 3rd Independent Assault Bn.
The Independent Assault Bn.'s are corps assets, allocated to subordinate Divisions or Battlegroups as the situation requires.  Because they are always in demand, the Independent Assault Bn.'s rarely fight as complete units.  Instead, they are broken up, usually into companies with each company assigned to stiffen a Bn. for an offensive or are rushed to reinforce a defensive position threatening to crumble.  Frequently, a platoon of the organic Pioneer Company (4th Co.) will accompany each individual company as will a platoon of technical company to care for the RXS specialized maintenance needs.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd I.A. Bn. were organized even before Fairchild Republic got their second production line operational and shipped out with the first Stormfleet.  Their techs fought a never  ending battle for supplies and spare parts.  At one point as a stopgap measure, a freighter loaded with converted Volcano BAPs were sent to replace casualties incurred on Blue Planet and its moons.   These RXS' were placed  into 3rd and 6th companies.  The Henschel conversion kits were well-designed and re-training was not that difficult.  The roomy 'H-BAPS' were popular with pilots, though not with service crews, who now found their supply problems doubled.  

The few that survived the final assault on Red Planet's fifth moon (Easy) were given over to 2nd Independent Assault BN, was re-equipped with a mixture of Behemoths and ASPs.

This Behemoth, "Woolly Bully", survived the entire Planetstorm campaign, racking up an impressive number of kills.  After a brief promotional tour of Earth, it was assigned to the Advanced Power Infantry Training School on New Meaford (also known as "New Mudford."), where its original pilot, Lieut Colo B. Woolever was CO.  


Now that these bad boys are done, I may drop a few more LOS figures in the lap of Triple P Painting.   Heck I may even dump off the pile of Warzone figures his way.  




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump - Presidential Nilbog

Well, THAT THING happened last night.  Donald Trump is now President-Elect, so you know what that means:


Time to upgrade his stats using Risus: The Anything RPG.   He's definitely major villain territory now.

 

Donald J Trump
Megalomaniacal Nilbog (see below)  (6)
Narcissistic Windbag Politician (5)
Pompous Reality TV Entrepreneur (2)
Mexican Structural Engineer (1) 
 
Equipment:  Expensive Suit, Red Trucker Cap (Made in China), Hairpiece of Shift Blame, Always escorted by 1d8 Trump-lings.
 
Just in case you don't know what a nilbog is, here you go.  Everything makes sense if he's a nilbog.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall-In! 2016 AAR

The leaves are changing, the air was nippy, and the political ads on TV were getting toxic.  It must mean that Fall-In! was right around the corner!

After a Friday morning of putting out fires at work, I signed my seven-year old daughter, Maja, out of school, and we embarked on a road trip to Lancaster to spend a Daddy-Daughter weekend of painting, games, and whatever demands a little girl wants.

And.... we're off!

The drive down was rather uneventful, although I caught the early edge of rush hour traffic around the 222 exit.  I had convinced Maja that it was too early to check into the hotel (and go swimming) so we found a place to park at the Host, picked up our badges in 15 seconds, caught up with a few friends I hadn't seen since last year's Fall-In! , and descended upon the Tennis Barn for a few "must have items,"  before my scheduled "kid-free"  shopping time on Saturday.

At least point, I cover my two disappointments that went wrong at the con:
  1. While I fully understand the Host is going through some massive, long-term renovations, the air quality in the convention areas are absolutely stifling.   I have spent the last two weeks on the fifth floor of an office building that had no HVAC at all and varied temps from 52 to 89 degrees on different days, yet I could tolerate that better than the Host.  I tried to walk in some of the side rooms to check out games, and the stale air smacked me in the face like opening up a thousand year old tomb.  I felt tremendous pity for those guys and gals who had to tough it out over a four hour session.
  2. I know I didn't get into the Dealer's Hall until 4pm on Friday, but the idea that I couldn't fill half my shopping list because vendors had already sold out of numerous items was a bit disconcerting.  This has nothing to do with hot new releases and it's not one particular vendor, but five.  The good news is that all were apologetic and made an effort to be accommodating, but I left the hall on Saturday with $200 in my pocket and now I need to make online orders and pay shipping. 
After snagging a few items, we drove across the street to check in at The Continental and meet-up with our friend Brian, who was splitting the cost of the room.   Maja and I then ventured over to the indoor pool for an hour.  Nothing like having a giant pool to ourselves (and a hot tub for Dad's back).
Friday Afternoon Gnome Wars Game
We cleaned up and ventured over to the one place that has never had a line on a Friday night: IHOP.  It's cheap, it's fast, and when we left, the same people waiting outside Texas Roadhouse when we went in were still out there.  
Frostgrave in the HAWKS room
70's Action on an oil rig?






A Very British Civil War


More Very British Civil War


Star Wars
Upon return to the Host, Maja decided that a Gnome Zombie game sounded like a better option than what we had planned, so we headed down to Distelfink with minis (and a lot of water) in hand.


Despite collecting and playing with the gnomes for eight years, I had never played in the Zombie (Znombie?) game.  Each player got a team of five random gnomes, or could bring their own team if they had one.  Melee weapons and silence were at a premium.





Some experienced players came prepared...


The scenario was quite simple: Get your five-man team across the far end of the table with as many resources that you could collect.  Random pockets of resources (food, ammo, explosives, and gas) lay scattered across the board.  Of course, the small town in the center of the board, filled with zombies, could be problem. 


Two years after I completed them, it was time for the first appearance of the California Imperial Guard to hit the table at an HMGS event.  Maja took the Officer, NCO, two riflemen (with two shots), and a healer, Sister Una.   I grab an assortment of pickaxes, halberds, and swords... and the California Imperial Guard's drummer, Ulrich.  I got a few odd looks until I explained that the drummer was expendable, making noise and running in the opposite direction, if need be...


Between Maja, myself, and fellow next to us, we had a plan to engage/wipe out the small zombie herd in front of us, and that gave us a clear path to get halfway across the board.


Turn One:  The other fellow and myself move towards the horde.  Maja's group proceeds to bolt behind us and run away. 


Good thing she didn't stab in the back with a butter knife at IHOP.


"Eek, they aren't lawn ornaments!"

The experienced players dashed forward, found gas, and fueled up a few well-placed trucks to speed off the board. Our right flank was a bit more inquisitive, searching for loot in a nearby graveyard and angering a skeleton lord and his minions.

Never get resources out of a graveyard in a zombie game.

Our assault on the herd was costly.  I lost my halberd and my comrade in arms lost four gnomes, leaving "Joey"  an ex-pirate with two unloaded pistols.  We swapped some resources so he could reload and we dashed towards the edge of town.   My drummer found a small tank, fueled it up, and started moving forward.  Joey tried to follow, unloaded all his ammo into an undead Kraut, and died alone to a surprise horde.
Joey fought alone.  Joey was scared.  Joey got eaten.  #RIPJoey
Maja needed a bathroom/snack break, but gave surprising orders for her group, sending them directly into a house to search for supplies and hide out from the zombies.  She uncovered a treasure trove, a supply cache, and best of all, NO ZOMBIES INSIDE. 


Sister Una and Sergeant Wilbanks find a treasure trove
This lay between us and the relative freedom of the bridge on the far end of the board:

Yikes!


We were plotting our moves into the inevitable slaughter when we overheard some conversation across the board.  Apparently, the fountain was the source of the cultist's powers of generating zombies (and immediately raising the recently fallen as new troops).    Holy water in the fountain might stop it... and we had a Roman Catholic nun on the run.

The fountain is the key...

But first Maja stole my phone and took some pictures around Distelfink....


Maja Pic #1 - abandoned camp


Maja Pic #2 - Random gnome groups


Maja Pic #3 "It was soooo pretty"


Maja Pic #4


Maja Pic #5


Maja Pic #6 - Another Award for Jim Stanton


And second, my drummer in the tank was going to crush some zombies and run over the fountain.


The tank crushes the fountain....


That went nothing like I planned it.  The fountain cracked open and the magical waters spread out six inches further, turning the recently deceased AND all of the cultists into zombies.   


Some other bands panicked and ran towards the bridge....




Some odd warbands flee!
Maja's warband charged out of the building, each soldier intercepting undead as Sister Una dashed towards the overspilling fountain.    Just one vial of holy water was all it took to stop the zombie curse. 


Of course, it did nothing to solve the existing zombie problem.   With all the cultists turned into zombies, there was no one to stop the drummer from coming out of the hatch, standing on the tank, and playing the drum part of the popular Lords of Marionettes.  His sacrifice (?) kept all the zombies at bay while at least a dozen more gnomes could escape.
Just Keep Drumming, Just Keep Drumming



The California Imperial Guard Escapes!
After clean-up, we headed back to the hotel, where an exhausted Brian offered to watch Maja while I returned to the bar and catch up with the Gnomies.    It's not Mad Elf, but the Troegs Doublebock was pretty good.   New gnome details should be forthcoming, but I can say, that you'll be seeing a continuation of the gnomish history of North America on this blog in the coming weeks. 


SATURDAY
We woke up and managed to miss this early rush for The Continental's breakfast buffet.  Maja ate enough for five grown gamers and demanded a trip to the playground.  I easily conceded.  


After swings, slides, and tetherball, we checked out and walked across 30 with our luggage.  We had gotten a primo spot in from of the Host after dinner, and between that and the late night libations, I had no reason to move the car.

First activity of the morning was the Beginner Paint class for Maja at Hobby University.    Remember the stifling air?  Even with an attentive teacher, a box fan, and a neon-green cave troll, Maja started to falter.  Copious amounts of water and a quick walk to investigate the kid's zone gave her enough energy to finish up. 

We then grabbed a snack and ventured down to the flea market.  

Fun fact:  Between the flea market and dealer hall, seven year girls get a bunch of free stuff.  Maja quickly accumulated an eccentric collection of figures, toys, and odd pieces just for being a girl excited about wargaming.  Don't know exactly what sort of game we're going to play with everything, but thanks to everyone for being so awesome.


HAWK's Santa Game

It was soon time for my Hobby U class on cheap roads, but due to a logistical snafu, it was replaced with shanty building.  I got the best of both worlds out of it, as I got an hour of therapeutic building with balsa and crimped postcard,  mixed with the teacher also going over the roads class without practice materials. 

I then dropped Maja off at the HAWKS room for the fabulous Lego Pirate game.  Once they were settled into the murderous rampage of childish glee that only Danish blocks could create, I ran off for some more pictures and "Dad" shopping. 

HAWKS Pirate Game











When all your stuff is painted in camouflage, this might make it easier to find everything.


Gnome Wars Saturday Afternoon Game


Gnome Wars Saturday Afternoon Game

I came back to a tired Maja, who only wanted to collect her free gnome she won at the Zombie game, pet the bearskin from the Polish Lancers, and head to dinner at DJ's Taste of the 50's, before heading home.

All in all, it's exactly the weekend we needed, even if the actual atmosphere was a bit stuffy.  As much as I'm game for the "Father's Day Away" weekend at Cold Wars, I'm much more excited by Maja's enthusiasm...  especially since we have a local con to attend this weekend.

The Spoils: 
For all the misses on my shopping list, I'm satisfied with my haul. 
Number one on my listed is a GDW hardcover copy of Space: 1889.    Second would be a nice visit to the infamous TreeGirl  (between the cookies and terrain, there must be a nefarious purpose from such a wonderful girl.  Perhaps this election was getting to me...)   Some Egyptian and Fantasy stuff from Windsword, some neat laser cut things coming From the Basement,  Brigade Arabs for an upcoming scenario plus the Hillary and Donald figures (already primed!), North Star African bearers, Pulp Figures heroines, and Maja's freebies.