Monday, May 22, 2017

I Stared Into the Abyss, and the Pikachu Stared Back

Not a terribly productive weekend.  I got my car back two days early, which allowed me to transport the kids (and friend) from birthday party to birthday party, only to have allergies knock everyone out early each night.

I emerged from cleaning the litter box in the basement to my daughter setting up a giant mat and a pile of cards on the kitchen table.

"Daddy, can you teach me to play Pokemon?"

I completely forgot that my wife got her a 2-player starter set for her birthday.  I've spent nearly 20 years avoiding this game, and after a fairly productive game using the pre-sorted decks, I stand by my aversion to it.  It's watered down Magic where they added a zero to hit points and damage.   Seriously, whoever beats up three Pokemon first wins?
It could be worse.  It could be Yu-Gi-Oh!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

(Review) De Horrore Cosmico by Golden Goblin Press

It was a little under two and a half years ago when 420 people backed Oscar Rios and Golden Goblin Press' Kickstarter for De Horrore Cosmico: Six Scenarios for Cthulhu Invictus.  I was one of those 420, and I've finally gotten around to giving the book a solid once over

Cthulhu Invictus, Lovecraftian role-playing during the Roman Empire, is a unique setting that, outside of the work from Mr Rios, has largely gone unloved.  Mind you, the 1890's Cthulhu by Gaslight is a mere afterthought through most of the CoC's existence, and that at least is part of the main rule book!

In De Horroe Cosmico, the writers attempt to make the historical setting more accessible to fans of CoC/Lovecraft and the traditional 1920's/modern focus.  Each scenario in the book is based off of one of Lovecraft's stories, converted to fit under the shadow of Rome's rule.

In a similar style to my review of Tales of the Crescent City, I'll do a quick overview of each scenario and a StatCheck breakdown, listing what skill checks are written in the scenario, maxium SAN losses/gains if all situations are encountered/obtain, as well as any special bonuses, Cthulhu Mythos knowledge that can be gained in the scenario.

The Vetting of Marius Asina  by Jeffrey Moeller
Based off of Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family.  Characterss are put to task to investigate the family of a local senator aspiring to higher office.

Cthulhu Mythos x3
Fast Talk x3
Natural History x3
Occult x3
Persuade x8
Spot Hidden x2
Status x1

Max San Loss:  5-36
Max San Gain:  4-26
Bonus:   +8% Cthulhu Mythos
Possible extra skill checks in Occult, Navigation, Other Language (Opar) and Other Kingdom (Opar).

Doom  by Chad Bowser
Based off The Doom That Came to Sarnath.  A retired Roman Legionaire suffering strange dreams fall victim to an unusal buglary of his household.

Civics x1
Cthulhu Mythos x1
Dodge x1
Fast Talk x4
First Aid x1
Insight x2
Library Use x1
Medicine x1
Natural World x1
Occult x1
Other Lang: Greek x2
Other Lang:  Hieratic x2
Persuade x5
Stealth x1

Max San Loss: 6-59
Max San Gain: 1-8
Bonuses:  Cthulhu Mythos +13%, Natural World +5%, Occult +5%

Murmillo  by Oscar Rios
Inspired by Shadows over Innsmouth.  Investigators must find a young patrician attempting to become a gladiator after he has run off to join an obscure gladiator school.

Climb x1
Fast Talk x3
Hide x1
Listern x1
Occult x1
Other Lang: Germanic x1
Persuade x4
Repair/Devise x1
Sneak x5
Spot Hidden x6

Max San Loss:  5-47
Max San Gain:  7-43

Kith and Kine by Phredd Groves
Inspired by Rats in the Walls and Whisperers in Darkness. Unrest in Brittania as a rival clan has taken over land of a clan allied to Rome

Art x1
Listen x1
Natural World x5
Other Lang:  Brythonic
Other Lang:  Punic
Repair/Devise x2
Spot Hidden x4

Max San Loss: 4-45
Max San Gain:  2-8

The Devil's Mouth by Stuart Boon
Based off In the Mountains of Madness.  The characters are sent to investigate a disappearance of a Roman diplomat deep within the wilds of Caledonia.

Astronomy x1
Craft: Cooking x1
First Aid x1
Insight x1
Medicine x2
Natural World x1
Other King: Caledonia x1
Other Lang: Pictish x4
Persuade x2
Ride x1
Science: Metallurgy x1
Spot Hidden x5
Status x1
Track x3

Max San Loss:  7-48
Max San Gain:  3-14
Bonus:  Cthulhu Mythos +5%

The Case of Tertius Orestious Sedonicus by Penelope Love and Mark Morrison
A family is looking for scholars in medicine and/or those who can work discretely.

Civics x9
Climb x1
Empire x3
Fast Talk x1
First Aid x1
Insight x3
Listen x3
Library Use x1
Medicine x5
Persuade x3
Potions x2
Repair/Devise x1
Sneak x2
Spot Hidden x7
Status x2

Max San Loss:  6-35
Max San Gain:  3-22
Bonus:  Cthulhu Mythos +8%

Patron Mi Patrone
Six Patrons for establishing storyline in Cthulhu Invictus.  A very useful addition.

All in all, Golden Gobln does a fantasic job putting the work together.  The scenarios are put together well and are plot directional, without being railroady. The artwork, maps, and handouts are solid and properly convey the Cthulhu Mythos in Rome to unfamiliar Keepers.   My only complaint is that others may find the retellings of classic stories in Invictus times to be trite and unoriginal at worst, or predictable during play, at best.  I believe that they would be wholey wrong in that opinion, but knowing that the scenarios might not be the best for everyone, i must give De Horrore Cosmisco Four and a Half Gnomes on the Five Gnomes Gaming with the Gnomies scale.

De Horrore Cosmico is available through Golden Goblin Press.  Minor conversion notes to Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition were part of the stretch goals for the Cthulhu Invictus 7th Edition Kickstarter and that's status is unknown to the writer at this time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Emerging from the Darkness of Life as We Know It

Good God, I need a vacation from my vacation.

Despite some time over the last two weeks, there's been little activity beyond my Post-Cruise Recap.

I did get reminded of the horrors of Fredericksburg as the whole family +2 made a late Friday night drive on I-95 to get to the USGA Trampoline and Tumbling Regional Championships in Williamsburg for the girls.  Nothing exciting to report from the championships, but 14 hours in the car and bad food service makes me grumpy Viscount.  Thank God my wife was happy with a pile of electronics pre-cruise (phone went out on the way to Baltimore) and some Olive Garden to-go for Mother's Day, because no one had any energy left.

My car has also revolted being held together with chicken wire and spit, and I've been forced to arrange rides into work while I waited for my axle to arrive.  It's not a bad situation, as my commute has been far more relaxing, but I have lost the extra 30-45 minutes I can spend after work and write-up posts.

After my logistical nightmare of multiple birthday parties on Saturday, I think I can get back to gaming and some long abandoned painting.

Games:  Episode #6 of the Lost World needs to get posted, and the girls can strictly do role-playing for Episode #7 this weekend.  Look for a big game for Episode #8 over Memorial Day Weekend.   Maja did get the My Little Pony RPG for her birthday, so I hope we can make up some characters and fool around with the system.  She also got... Pokemon cards for her birthday, so we'll need to address that sooner than later.

Writing: The review of De Horrore Cosmico is scheduled to post tomorrow.  Tales of the Caribbean is in outline form and might see the light of day next week.   The first six of the Pigeon God actual plays have been a resounding success, which is great, because I've got the next tens weeks finished up and scheduled for Tuesday mornings.  Only 36 more to go....

Painting:  This, a case of beer, and big-ass box fan in the basement should calm my nerves .  With the past due reviews finally wrapping up, this is my next bugbear. Pulp cultists, those infernal Blue Martians, and German Gnomes top the list, but I also need to start base coating my Pulp German Colonial Rifles and a terrain piece for the last sessions of the Lost World game.  I also have a ceramic gnome to finish up as well...
Kickstarters:  Thanks for tolerating the deluge of cool Kickstarters that launch over vacation and into last week.  I've only tentatively allotted a full pledge to the Cat-Folk Kickstarter, with a few $1 pledges to others so I can be entertained by watching them burn out or succeed mightily.

Speaking of which, I just received the discount code for my copy of the Lost Pyramid Kickstarter that was supposed to arrive two years ago.  To add insult to injury, I apparently only pledged for the print copy, not the print+pdf, so to be to print-on-demand, it's another four dollars and change.  Even if this is one of the greatest gaming books ever, the long, drawn-out process has soured it for me.

Still waiting on two more campaigns that should arrive "any day," hence my desire to clear the painting queue first.

Conventions:  Must make reservations for The Weekend in June and figure out games for Fall-In! and Mepacon.  And maybe, just maybe, I can get the crew together to play something.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The CGA's Introduction to Hackmaster 4E -- Another side of OSR

The Complex Game's Apologist on Youtube has recently released an in-depth look at Hackmaster 4th Edition and its proper place within the umbrella of OSR games.

There's a few minor critique's of his analysis of the rules, but as a man who removed fatigue from combat and completely overhauled training, they're not worth mentioning.

As someone who ran the Hackmaster version of module G1 - Steading of the Hill Giant completely in a six hour session (with a FUBAR combat that would make most 3rd+ edition players soil themselves), I laugh at some of the comments to the video that worry about the speed of combat.   It's all a matter of knowledge and application.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 Origins Awards Nominees Announced

At the end of last week, the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design announced the nominees for the 2017 Origins Awards.  Here's the list, with some inane commentary by me.  
1. Family Games (6 Nominees)
  • Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-building Game by Cryptozoic Entertainment 
  • Garbage Day by Mayday Games 
  • Happy Salmon by North Star Games 
  • Junk Art by Pretzel Games 
  • Karuba by HABA 
  • Speechless by Arcane Wonders
Fun fact:  I listed none of these items in my monthly The Apathy of New Releases post covering... well... new releases.   Either they MSRP was too high, there was zero pomotion within the Game Trade Monthly, or I just have poor decision making skills.  As I see dozens of poor board/family/card games cluttering the shelves at stores and cons that I would not have order with serious fanfare, I'll chalk it up to the first two issues.
ViscountEric's Pick:  NONE

2. Role-Playing Game (10 Nominees)
  • 7th Sea: Second Edition by John Wick Presents 
  • Curse of Strahd by Wizards of the Coast-D&D
  • No Thank You, Evil! by Monte Cook Games 
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Fantasy Flight
  • Shadowrun-Seattle Sprawl by Catalyst Game Labs 
  • Symbaroum by Järnringen and co-published by Modiphius Entertainment 
  • Storm King’s Thunder by Wizards of the Coast-D&D 
  • Star Wars: Edge of the Empire-Special Modifications by Fantasy Flight 
  • The One Ring: Horse: Lords of Rohan by Cubicle 7 
  • Volo’s Guide to Monsters by Wizards of the Coast-D&D 
Two FFG Star Wars products and three WotC D&D give the other five a fair shake in the voting.
ViscountEric's Pick: No Thank You, Evil!

3. Traditional Card Games (8 Nominees)
  • Dream Home by Asmodee 
  • Fabled Fruit by Stronghold Games 
  • Kanagawa by IELLO 
  • Kodama: The Tree Spirits by Action Phase Games
  • Lotus by Renegade Games 
  • Mystic Vale by AEG
  • Oh My Goods by Mayfair Games
  • The Big Book of Madness by IELLO 
Oddly enough, the only item on this list that caught my eye was Oh My Goods, which warranted enough interest for me to post the game blurb with it, something I rarely do. 
Viscounteric's Pick: Oh My Goods

4. Game Accessories (4 Nominees)
  • Blood Rage Organizer by The Broken Token
  • Dungeon Morph Dice Adventurer Set by Inkwell Ideas / Q-Workshop
  • Flip ‘N Tray Mat Case by Ultimate Guard 
  • Improved D Total by Gamescience 
Very disappointing nominees for the category.  The new Gamescience still piques my old-school fascinations.
Viscounteric's Pick:  Improved D Total

5. Board Games (10 Nominees) 
  • Blood Rage 
  • Clank! by Renegade Games
  • Cry Havoc by Portal Games 
  • Feast for Odin by Z Man Games/AsmodeeIslebound by Red Raven Games 
  • Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight/Asmodee 
  • Scythe by Stonemaier Games 
  • Star Wars Rebellion by Fantasy Flight 
  • Terraforming Mars 
  • World’s Fair 1893 by Renegade Game Studios and Foxtrot Games 
Finally, a category I have familiarity with!  Most of these are solid games, but I did enjoy Terraforming Mars far more than the sales pitches I've gotten from fans of the others.  And unlike Scythe, the set-up/clean-up of Terraforming is far less arduous for more playing time.
Viscounteric's Pick:  Terraforming Mars.

6. Collectible Games (5 Nominees)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh Breaker of Shadow Booster by Konami 
  • Pokémon XY11 Steam Siege Booster by Pokémon USA
  • Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh Booster Pack by Wizards of the Coast
  • Marvel HeroClix: Uncanny X-Men Booster Brick by WizKids
  • Cardfight Vanguard Fighters Collection by Bushiroad
I didn't hear any raving reviews of any of the collectible games that aren't for Magic.
Viscounteric's Pick:  Kaladesh

7. Miniatures (5 Nominees)
  • Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team by Games Workshop
  • Konflikt ’47 by Warlord Games 
  • Dragon Rampant by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine
  • TANKS by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine 
  • Dropfleet Commander by Hawk Wargames 
Wow, the one category I'm truly interested in and 40K Kill Team is on it?  Yuck.   I'm assuming Dragon Rampant is the one released through Osprey Publishing... correct me if I'm wrong.
Viscounteric's Pick:  Dragon Rampant

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #6 - Palace of the Silver Princess, Part One

Date: ???  Place ????

"Apparently we are not quite dead yet."  - Echelon

Echelon was the first to wake.  Correction, Pathfinder the wolf was the first to wake up, immediately seeking out his human companion.  A few licks to the face and the cleric of Tshang Hai Shing awoke to a weird hazy realm of white fog with an red light illuminating everything in the distance.  The others were tossed about in this area.  If it was the afterlife, the gods and mythologies were apparently all the same.  Most survived.

Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the Plains of Galmar
Kane: Student of Eastern mysticism, controller of water.
Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger
Maloran Alberhold - human fighter, ladies man sans charisma. 
Talis Makolin - a rakish bard avec charisma
Echelon - a pigeon loving priest of an eastern god of the sea, escorted by his charmed wolf, Pathfinder.  Perhaps it was wise that his henchman, Carthon, and lovable village orphan, Timmy, were back at the Village of Eding.
Velandro - a pious priest of Akana

The newest members to the party, Odrune and Meudsopu, were gone.  All the grievous wounds received at the hands of the statue, the dark warrior, and the black dragon, were visibly gone, but they were all in a tremendous amount of pain and soreness.

But they were alive...

An ethereal being descended through the mist towards them.  Everyone had weapons in hand, but no one readied to fight. 

"I am the goddess Thendara, protector of the Valley of Haven.  But alas, the peace and prosperity of my domain has been overrun by evil and I must beg for assistance."

"The ruler of Haven was a fair Princess Argenta.  She lived in a palace of white, shining marble, which when the sun set, glowed liked silver.  Princess Argenta was beloved by all her people.  She was just, kind, and friendly to all."

"One day, the dwarves from Skyforge found a ruby the size of an apple.  As a token of their allegiance to Haven, they gave the ruby to Princess Argenta.  The dwarves named the ruby, "My Lady's Heart." The princess was so pleased by the gift that she invited all to attend a celebration to see the wondrous gem.  The dwarves were to be guests of honor and there was to be a grand day of feasting and fun."

"The day before the celebration, a strange visitor arrived.  He flew into the valley riding a white dragon. The rider was dressed all black.  He had pale skin, long blond hair, and a short beard.  Since Haven was noted for its hospitality, the princess invited the stranger to stay at the palace.  She also granted his request to escort her to the celebration."

"At midnight, disaster struck.  Dark clouds hid the moon, and a freezing wind blew through the valley.  The crops withered in the fields.  Cattle grew sick.  The valley began to die.  I could do nothing."

"From the palace came an explosion and parts of the walls came tumbling down.  When the dust cleared a ruby glow surrounded the entire palace."

"Haven now lies in chaos.  Raiding bands of orcs, goblins, and hobgoblins terrorize the countryside. The disaster happened so quickly that the people are confused and helpless.  Without their leaders, who are trapped in the palace, they have no courage to fight back.  The situation has become desperate."

"Haven is in dire trouble.  I do not know what caused the disaster , but I do know that the reason can be found somewhere in the palace.  Allies of the villains that has attacked Haven have challenged me and I am under siege.  I cannot help Haven, but you can.  You are Haven's only hope.   Find out the source of the evil that has overtaken the valley and destroy it.  I have enough power to get you through the ruby glow to the palace gates."

"Please decide quickly.  Already evil forces have detected my sending.  Will you come now?"

Echelon: "Between a choice to either go on some mission for the goddess or return to the place of their ultimate doom.   We take a vote and decide that life is better than death."  

One by one the party members gave an affirmative, until it got to Pathfinder.

"Yeah, Boss.  We should help the nice lady."

Echelon took a second glance, "Wait, Pathfinder, you can talk???"

The other party members stared at Echelon in utter confusion.

"Yeah, Boss.  Guess you finally figured out how to talk to me, most humans ain't that smart."

Echelon took two steps back and raised his hands.  "Sure, the wolf can only talk to me... that's new."

Unshaken by his new discovery, Echelon and Pathfinder led the group down the magical path piercing the ruby glow until they reached the portcullis of the lower levels of the palace.

"The glow also seems to kill everything it touches.    Fortunately the goddess cleared a path for us. Otherwise it would be a really short mission." - Echelon

The party lifted the portcullis and entered the palace.  As the portcullis fell behind them with a loud clamor, the ruby haze filled into the magic path.

They swept through the first few rooms, killing what seemed like random monsters:  a skeleton, a goblin, a rat, and a very angry man in red robes.

They moved into the library and could hear scurrying underneath the overturned bookcases, followed by ineffective.. shushing?  Ashe and Velandro moved forward to flush out the creatures, and they were met by four pairs of terrified eyes of a kobold family peering over a desk.  Ashe stepped forward, but Velandro stopped him, ordering him back, and telling the others to secure the double oak doors.

Over the better part of an hour Velandro, lured the little kobolds out of their hiding spots with rations and a few sweets he had in his packed.  Realizing the man wasn't trying to hurt them, the largest kobold wandered out, took the food, ran back some to the desk, and came back out armed with a tiny sword and broken barrel lid as a shield.
Dag the Kobold
No one spoke kobold, but through charades and jerky, it was determined that the bigger kobold was named Dag and the party had entered the makeshift lair of his family (Mrs Dag and two young).
At some point in their odd conversation, it was decided that Dag and Family would accompany the party on their mission.  A simple act of kindness may have earned Velandro faithful followers.

He wondered what it would take to have them convert to Akana....

GM Notes: I'm not that mean a DM, an overpowered final villain and no means to escape.  It was planned all along.  Thendara and Princess Argenta were quite familiar with Elwyn's black dragon ally, who had spent years trying to terrorize the Valley.  After being banished, the monster took up with Elwyn and plotted revenge.  When the goddess began to scrying the world for help, the dragon's connection with the valley drew her in, and the fight with the party made her save them.  The ruby curse of the valley shouldn't be as powerful as the dragon, or so she thought.  Isn't that comforting?

The current story path was suggested in B1-9 In Search of Adventure. The entire party (save Odrune and Meudsopu's  players) came back to the table a week after a TPK, expecting to roll up new PCs and then I threw the goddess at them.  Guess there's still a little bit more story out of these characters.

Pathfinder talking to Echelon?  Chalk that up to 50% Divine Intervention, 50% Black Dragon Lightning, but they now have a psychic connection.  Pathfinder can speak to Echelon psychically, but Echelon needs to speak out loud for Pathfinder to understand him.  Hilarity will ensue.

And now, the party has to solve the ruby curse, all the while escorting a family of kobold refugees.  

Next #7 - The Conclusion of Palace of the Silver Princess

Monday, May 15, 2017

(Kickstarter) Alpine Gnomes in 28mm by Old School Miniatures

Old School Miniatures has launched a Kickstarter for Alpine Gnomes in 28mm!

Now, before all you Gnome Wars players go wild and pledge, double check those 20mm slotted bases those gnomes are mounted on.  These fellas are tiny.  I daresay they're slightly bigger the the Brigade Games gnomelings.
That all being said, the sculpts are great inspiration for what a Swiss Army, past and present, should look like.  I particularly love the camp followers.

(Kickstarter) The Arcanum 30th Anniversary Edition

After a long wait, ZiLa Games has finally relaunched their Kickstarter for The Arcanum: 30th Anniversary Edition.

The original Arcanum was the first book (along with The Lexicon and the Bestiary) that Bard Games ultimately released as the Atlantis Trilogy.  The Bestiary and the Lexicon seem are now licensed out to Jerry Greyson of Khepera Publishing as Atlantis, but the Arcanum as-is was still available.

Of course, the biggest worry for this campaign is that it's its second trip around Kickstarter.  The first one garnered over $6,000, but as Kickstarters are wont to do, things spiraled out of control.  As a counter-point, the designer did manage to refund every penny to each backer, so it appears there was no malevolence intended. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Legions of Steel Molds for Sale!

Perusing around the Hobby News section on TMP, I noticed Amazon Miniatures was selling off casting equipment, as well as any remaining molds from their lines.  The name was somewhat familiar, and as I scrolled down, it clicked...

  • Amazon Miniatures
  • Early Dixon
  • Global Games 
  • Pendragon
  • QT
  • Rose
Amazon was the European supplier for Legions of Steel and Inferno.  Now, if you have $60, you can buy the molds for the G1 Nightmares and cast as many as you want!  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

(Kickstarter) Hedgerows and Heroes

Rebels Minis, in conjuction with Splintered Light Miniatures, has launched Hedgerows and Heroes, an ambitiouis Kickstarter for wargaming rules with 28mm anthropomorphic animals minis.

A $5 pledge nets the pdf of the rules, $75 gets the rules as pdf and hardcopy, PLUS 60 minis.

The minis are nice, but they seem awfully familiar (not surprisingly) to Splintered Light's 15mm range. When compared to an actual 28mm figure, they're slightly more than half the height.

That also makes the foxes, possums, and the like much smaller than the Reaper Mouslings or Eureka's Mice Warriors.

Friday, May 12, 2017

(Kickstarter) Pax Cthuliana

Two Starving Gnolls from Norway have launched a mini-RPG campaign for Lovecraft fans called Pax Cthuliana.   It's a "short" campaign, one that starts with introductions and evolves to the epic conclusion in 6+ hours.    It will provide stats in a percentile skill-based format, but is not a licensed product through Chaosium.
A $5 pledge gets you the pdf, $26 for the PDF and Print on Demand softcover with free shipping, and $58 will garner the pdf, plus the hardcover version with free shipping.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

(Kickstarter) Wild West Fantasy Miniatures

More Old West stuff, now mixed with Fantasy!!!

Miniaturemen, creator of the 28mm Cowboy Orc minis has  launched a follow-up Kickstarter for additional Wild West Fantasy Miniatures.
Some of the figures are a bit off proportionally, but they are dwarves, so I take it with a grain of salt.  Human, Orcs, Half-Orc and Dwarf figures are available.

I'm most intrigued with the Dwarf Cowboys, who seem easily convertible into even more rag-tag redneck Squats/Space Gnomes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

(Kickstarter) Disposable Heroes II - 28mm WW2 Minis by Brigade Games

The Kickstarters keep coming in hot and heavy.

Now we have Brigade Games launching a second Kickstarter under their Disposable Heroes line, to produce 28mm WW2 US and German infantry squads. 
Lower pledges average out to $2/figure before S&H, and gets cheaper the more figures you order.  

(Kickstarter) Cat-Folk 28mm Minis and Dungeon Scenery

Johnny Luack, former owner/operator of Mega Miniatures, has launched his sixth (and final) Kickstarter in the lazily titled Dungeon Scenery & Anthropomorphic Miniatures 28mm
A twenty five dollar pledge nets you six Cat Folk Warriors, four small mammal warriors, and five types of treasure chests with removable lids.. with free shipping in the US! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

(Kickstarter) Native Renegades: Od West Tabletop Minis

Love for all things Old West seems to be on the upswing this past month.  It continues with Blind Beggar Miniatures offering Native Renegades.

I've usually avoided the Blind Beggar campaigns.  The figures can be off proportionally, even when dealing with thing like the Deep One Hybrids, where proportions should vary greatly.

However, these figures look solid and for about $22US and inexpensive shippping, all ten figures can be yours!

Ballad of the Pigeon God #5 - The Bells of Chardastes

Our active characters at the onset of the episode:
Rolf Wolfsblood:  Bald-headed barbarian from the Plains of Galmar
Kane: Student of Eastern mysticism, controller of water.
Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger
Maloran Alberhold - human fighter, ladies man sans charisma
Talis Makolin - a rakish bard avec charisma
Echelon - a pigeon loving priest of an eastern god of the sea, escorted by his new unwanted henchman, Carthon, and lovable village orphan, Timmy to corral a host of animals.
Velandro - a pious priest of Akana
Aiko - a young female thief

30 SepDec 1069 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
A few weeks had passed since the lizardmen attack and the subsequent assault on their Castle in the Moors.  The party was living comfortably, but would occasionally go out to patrol the outskirts of the pine barrens.  Very rarely they would think they saw something off to the distance, but they never encountered another lizardman.

Things were getting quiet in town and our adventurers were pondering visiting other villages for work.. and to see if anyone else had encountered a "Dread Lord" like they had.  However, news that the Archbishop Adolphus of Hydincall, the highest ranking priest in the entire Church of Akana, was making a special trip to Eding,  He specifically requested the holy warriors within the town, and with Velandro's recent heroics, they humored his future meeting with Archbishop, and lame new job reading or writing, or something lame like that.

1 OctDec 1069 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Archbishop Adolphus and his well armed caravan arrived in Eding.  Lord Athelstane, Lady Iris, the manor guards, and village militia met him in the town center (re: outside the Blue Wizard Inn) for formal ceremony, then escorted him to Athelstane's manor house, where he would be staying.

4 OctDec 1069 - Lord Athelstane's Manor House, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
Velandro was called for an audience with the Archbishop, and instructed to bring "his heathen allies" with him.   The other party members quickly bought some new clothes and they travelled out the manor house.  Oddly enough, despite her appearance at the Blue Wizard when Velandro gave the word, Aiko was nowhere to seen.

After the required pomp and circumstance, the Archbishop conducted a short service, then provided Velandro with a mission from Akana.

One of the holy artifacts of Akana, the Bell of Chardastes, was stolen by a rogue priest named Elwyn many years ago.  It was eventually recovered, but Elwyn was never caught.

It recently disappeared and Elwyn was again considered the prime suspect.

Velandro was tasked with assembling a team to Elwyn's last  known hideout, an iron citadel located deep with the cursed Nightwood Forest.  The first concern was retrieving the Bell, the capture or death of Elwyn would be a secondary goal.   The Bell would earn a 1000 gold reward.  Elwyn would be 1000 alive or 500 dead.

To aid with the recovery of the Bell, the Archbishop decided to loan out his magical attache to the party.  Odrune was a recent graduate of the magic university in Hydincall and was working off his debts by working in a governement agenecy... and the Church of Akana in Crosedes was a certainly a government agency.
After accepting the mission, the party was excused, save Velandro, who had a private dinner with the Archbishop.

The Nightwood was rife with goblins, and since no one in the party spoke goblin, they sought out anyone who could translate.  They found Meudsopu, a half-orc cleric (and thief), who was willing to translate for one-half a share of the treasure, and a full share if he was forced to heal anyone but himself.
Talis tried his best "I'm on a mission from a god" speech on yet another peasant girl.  Perhap he laid the "This might be my last mortal moments on Georic" line a little long, because by the time the got to "sweet lovin," her father interrupted, and it almost became his last moments on Georic.

Velandro came back to the group after his dinner with the Archbishop and boldly declared that they were leaving... NOW.  The party complied.

4 OctDec 1069 - The Nightwood Forest,  Kingdom of Crosedes
The group left the Blue Wizard complete with Echelon's animal caravan. Timmy was left at the Inn, even Echelon couldn't endanger a child THAT badly.

Crossing a ford in river, the went up a hill and came upon an abandone shack.  They group kept going, but Kane backtracked to investigate.  A few minutes later, he could be found trailing the group and mumbling to himself.  He said he was fine, and the others were more worried about goblins attacking.

As they entered the true forest, almost all the remaining light was blocked out by the tree canopy.  On top of that, each one of the casters (Echelon, Kane, Meudsopu, Odrune, and Velandro) suffered from a wave of horrible headaches.  The animals went berserk and it took everything from the other members of the party unaffected to get them under control.   Echelon recovered, took care of his animals

Realizing that his dictate from the Archbishop meant that they needed to leave town tonight, not travel the whole night, they set up camp for an abbreviated rest.

While some found a nearby tree, or set up their pup tents, all were fascinated (and annoyed) by the elaborate tent Echelon had purchased, and was in the middle of setting up.  He had a small pup tent, but his animals had a tent befitting a carnival.

Talis: "The sheep have better tents than us!! What's up with that??!!

On a late whim, and anticipating new spells in the morning, Kane mediated on his mysticism to detect evil.  Immediately, he began spasming then collapsing on the ground.  As others checked on him, it was determined that he was wracked with pain that took a long time to dissipate.

Kane: "It's evil...EVERYWHERE!"

5 OctDec 1069 - Elwyn's Sanctuary, Somewhere in the Nightwood Forest
Not many got sleep that night, between the watches, and the increasingly skittish animals.  Echelon decided it best if Carthon took the animals back to Eding (save Pathfinder).

A few hours later the treeline began to break and they themselves in front of Elwyn's fortress, a windowless building made out... of.. cold iron?

Talis:  "A voice calls out and tells us to leave but we ignore it."

The interior of the fortress was quite straightforward: A continuous hallway, with only a few side openings.  Some held supplies, some held obviously hostile followers of Elwyns, a few had altars dominate them, a bell on top of increasing value the further they ventured it.

They did their best sneaking around, despite triggering two traps and navigating out of a dungeon. Kane even donated some gold to some clerics in deep meditation.  "I don't know if they are evil. When they attack us, I'll take my donation back."

Near the center of the fortress, a wooden statue came to life and attacked.  Maloran and Rolf leaped into action, both having magical weapons.  Maloran longsword was quite competent, but Rolf was especially comically, a lumbering barbarian swiping at the construct with a measly dagger.

A measly magic dagger that no one remembered him getting from the loot sharing of previous adventures.  Loud accusation of thievery came from other party members, with Rolf providing a simple "Get bent, let's go," as the continued on.  Among the heated exchange Maloran found a "keen bottle" and immediately claimed dibs, in case thing shortly went south.

He did not have long to wait.

In what initially appeared to be the center of the odd citadel, a lone statue of Akana dominated the room, the actual Bell of Chardastes atop an altar in front of it.  As the group advanced, it began shooting lava out its fingertips, seriously wounding Kane and Velandro.

With the party focused on the statue, a dark clad warrior emerged out of the darkness, immediately slaying Odrune and Meudsopu.  His skill with a sword was unsurpassed, as he laid waste to the party. Most were laid out, going in and out of consciousness, a few using their hands to hold their guts inside while they desperately tried to wound the warrior.    Rolf then pulled out a wand, pointed it at the warrior, and he finally fell.

Echelon:  "Where the hell did THAT come from?"

As the warrior's body finally slumped onto the ground, a monstrous form emerged from the shadows: an actual Black Dragon!!!   Kane grabbed the bell and tried to flee.  The dragon immediately slew Kane.  Echelon grabbed the bell from Kane's body and tried to flee with Pathfinder , A lightening bolt came out the dragons mouth, killing the pair, and Ashe in the crossfire.

A second black dragon then showed up and began fighting the first one!  Adventurers fell left and right.  Talis Makolin, his body pinned to the wall by the original dragon crushing claw, managed one last survey of the room.  The bodies of all his fellow adventurers laid strewn across the floor.  All where dead, or at their last gasps of breath, save one.  Maloran Alberhold was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he managed to escape with the bell....

Then everything went dark....

GM Notes:  I like to leave write-ups with just a glint of hope, especially since the original  journal entry was written like that.  Alas, it was not to be.  The "keen bottle" that Maloran claimed dibs just moments before they entered the chamber of doom, was not the healing potion he hoped for, rather a convenient Potion of Polymorph.  A black dragon seemed an obvious form, although he gained none of the special abilities.  The actual dragon realized this a few moment after Talis' death and slew the fighter.  
So there you have it folks, five episodes in and we have a TPK.  To be truthful, the adventure, Elwyn's Sanctuary from B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond, can get tough.  It gets even tougher when converted from "Red Box" D&D to AD&D 2nd Edition.  

As the players filed out of the basement common area of the dorm, there was a mixture of genuine frustration, sadness, and some deserved anger.   The group just seemed to start gelling together, before the apparent betrayal by Rolf.  But as the week went on, our lunch table focused on two facts: (1)  Quests from the Archbishop of a major religion are sometimes suicide missions.   (2) At least Carthon the henchman survived.  

Echelon proved wise to give him two instructions: (1) If they did not return for two months, sell off all of Echelon's animals and the treasure  (2) Take care of Timmy the Orphan.  Somewhere, there's a post-credit scene where an honorable Carthon needs to tell the young boy the inevitable truth and all he can do to keep himself compose is to hold onto the weeping lad for all its worth.

NEXT #6 -The Omega and the Alpha 

Monday, May 8, 2017

(Kickstarter) Rifts: The Board Game

I've got a backlog of cool Kickstarters to cover from last week, but let's start with the coolest one, which just launched minutes ago...

Rogue Heroes publishing has launched a campaign for the Rifts Board Game.
A $100 pledge ($90 for the early bird pledges) nets you the board game with 20 figures, a double sided combat map with two overlaying tiles, a 64 page black and white rulebook, 300+ combat and character cards, tokens, etc, and the much needed two 20-sided dice.

Figures look cool.  Stretch goals are initially set to only one (upgrading rules to color) with a reasonable bump.  And they've diversified they're add-ons to Rifts RPG and Savage World/Rifts products already in print to boost the pledges.

The cons?

  • It's Palladium, even if it's licensed through a third party.  After nearly thirty years of playing RPGs, Those who keep their expectations low are rarely disappointed.  
  • Shipping and handling will be done post-campaign through the pledge manager and is borderline ridiculous.  Knowing the costs, both foreign and domestic for other projects with much bigger boxes and much heavier contents, this looks like they're setting up some back-up funding.  
  • Estimated delivery is JUNE 2019!!!!  I'm picturing my eldest daughter finishing elementary school before this finally deliver.  She's finishing up 2nd grade next month.  If you completely doubt me, see my first bullet point above.  
It will be big, it will be fun, it will be awesome, but I'll certainly watch this one as a spectator.   If I'm still on a Rifts kick in 2020, perhaps I will snag up some of the components of eBay.

So I'm Back...

A week in the Eastern Caribbean and I'm back!  I still fit in my pants from all the fabulous food and outside some very red racing stripes of serious sunburn going across my shoulders and down my arms, we're all in one piece.

Did I truly get enough R&R to recharge the batteries?  Heck, no!  I've got  a wife and two kids who were constantly on the run.  So much so, that I mispacked most of my tertiary projects and forgot to grab the specially assembled Lost World themed box of Rory's Story Dice.

I did get my reviews of the Golden Goblin books complete, although it was creepy to read up on the Bahamas section of Tales of the Caribbean and then go into the straw market and see all the little wooden figurines for sale.

We got three whole games in over the week, two games of "normal" Rory's Story Cubes (one involved a duck in a Hawaiian shirt who directed movies, the other involved Garfield the cat and time travel) and we did get Episode 6 of the Lost World game into the books, upon arrival at the house.

What to expect for this week and beyond?  Obviously I've got two reviews and an AAR to type up. The Ballad of the Pigeon God hits tomorrow, plus there looks to be six interesting Kickstarters that launched during my vacation that deserve a closer look.

And let's not even start with the painting...  we'll get to that soon enough.  Hopefully before my Psi-Paladin and Techno Barbarian minis show up at my door... followed immediately by the Bones 3.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

We Have Returned!!!

Coming back from the cruise a new man... although probably not like this fella...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017

I still plan on being on a boat today, so it will break my four year streak of taking the girls to the (not-so) local comic book shop to participate in Free Comic Book Day.   Few things trump our traditions, and sipping umbrella drinks on the Lido deck while the kids are playing in Camp Carnival would be one of them.
For those of you not in international waters, go out, find a shop, and participate in this great promotion.  None nearby (Nearby = 30 minute drive local or highway)?  Go see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.   Already saw it?  Go see it again, you know you want to.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sipping Drinks on Our Balcony...

By this point in the game the entire family should be in the Bahamas, sipping drinks and playing in the sand...

If you can find this gnome wine, grab it.  Not because it's particularly great, but it seems to be $10 a bottle.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ballad of the Pigeon God #4 - The Castle in the Moors

Our active players at the onset of our episode, returning from The Temple of Alasku:
Ashe - highly skilled elven ranger
Maloran Alberhold - human fighter, ladies man minus any charisma
Talis Makolin - a rakish bard
Echelon - a pigeon loving priest of an eastern god of the sea, escorted by his new unwanted henchman, and lovable village orphan, Timmy to corral a host of animals.
Velandro - a pious priest of Akana
Aiko - a young female thief

29th of Hexdec, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The party arrived back in Eding  with plenty of plunder.   Ashe and Maloran make a note to introduce Rolf Wolfsblood and Kane to the group, although Rolf simply rolls his eyes at the jovial screw-ups. Treasure is distributed and Echelon buys more pigeon eggs and livestock.

35th of Hexdec, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
As the dinner crowd rolled into the Blue Wizard Inn, young Timmy dashes inside in search of the party, as well as the militia. Lizardmen were attacking the farms to the southwest of town.  The party jumped into action and headed out towards the farms, not even waiting for the assembling militia.

They had almost reached the nearest farm, and could see the silhouettes of the lizardmen against the fires, when thunderous hooves came up from behind.  It was Lord Athelstane, his right-hand woman, Lady Iris, Red Knight of Crosedes, Barrack, the commander of the militia, and all six of the Lord's guards on horseback.  He stopped to confirm the allegiance of the party and ordered them to march to the second farm.   Soon enough, Torm and his militia arrived, and they all would spend most of the night scouring the countryside.

36th of Hexdec, The Farms Outside of  the Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
By daybreak, the only lizardmen in the area were corpses.  Torm set-up a rotation for groups to continue to patrol this area, while a second group defended the village, and a third got some rest.

1st of SepDec, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
After a few rotations, Torm reported to Lady Iris, and ordered everyone to stand down.  Maloran spoke with him and discovered that the raid was peculiar.  Very few peasants were killed, Only prepared or stored food was taken, along with a few young women that were kidnapped.  Lizardmen historically avoided conflict with humans.  So long as men or their livestock stayed out of their swamp, they had no quarrel.  Reviewing the old maps Ashe had obtained, a small, unnamed tower or keep was was located in that swamp, in the direction of the humanoids retreat.
I didn't think peasant women wore lingerie...
Maloran got Torm's okay to scout out the location (and get some retribution on the lizardmen if they were in the way).  He went back to the party, announced his plans for them, then proceeded to steal the peasant girl Talis was wooing right in front of him.

2nd of SepDec, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The following adventurers left in the morning:
Talis Makolin
Echelon with Pathfinder, the charmed wolf and Carthon, the henchman

Timmy was left in charge of the cow and a few chickens back in the village.  This allowed Echelon to see the effectiveness of the new sheep he had purchased!

3rd of SepDec, The Southern Moors
Just past the last of the farms, the party encountered a strange man.  He would not give a name, but he claimed he was a magical merchant that wanted to buy one of Echelon's sheep.  Although a hefty profit was made on the transaction, everyone wondered why this man was wandering the edge of the lizardmen's range, and how he would defend himself.  He reached into his pocket, pulled out a simple frog, and pressed its back.  The creature opened its mouth and tremendous flames belched out from it. Kane offered to buy the frog, but the man refused, and soon they parted company.

Near dusk, they encountered some ogres.  Upon defeating the the ogres, Aiko appeared, finally catching up to them.  Scouting out some odd noise, Kane and Ashe ran into a pair or sphinxes mating.  They were not fast enough to avoid the duo flailing about in their violent throes of passion, and were tossed considerably far from the site.  Kane advised they go in the opposite direction for a ways before setting up camp for the night.

4th of SepDec, The Southern Moors
Early in the morning, they discovered the location of the keep, due to catapult shot being launched at them!
The keep may have once been an imposing sight, but over the years it slowly sank into the swamp until now, only five or six feet of each tower stood above the water.  The front two towers each had a catapult in the center, and a small crew re-loading.  The two rear towers had a combined force of men and lizardmen, some descending into the swamp to meet the party.

While Carthon chased the frightened animals, the rest decided a full frontal assault was the wisest approach. Dodging spears and arrows, Rolf led the group through the foot deep water.  Upon reaching the tower, the barbarian jumped up, grabbed one of the defending artillierists by the shirt, pulling him halfway over the parapet, but allowing Rolf to swing himself up.   The enabling defender plummeted into the water with a few broken ribs and the wind knocked out of him,   The other members of his squad fared a far more vicious demise at the end of the Rolf's sword.

Kane took a far more imaginative angle with the second front tower, With Maloran and Velandro shielding him from the worst of the attack, the monk put his hands together and a torrent of water shot forth, nailing the spear-chucking defender in the face, knocking him off the tower.

Soon, the towers were secured and all outside defenders thwarted.

The interior was levels of the castle were still intact, if not water-logged.  The great doors and portcullis of the former front gate were barely containing the swamp water from flooding the entire structure.

The bulk of the castle's inhabitants had come out to meet the party, so much of there were a few skirmishes.  They were able to find and rescue most of the kidnapped peasants.   Unfortunately, in the time it took to secure the village and launch their expedition, a few found themselves in the gullets of the lizardmen and a few survivors appeared abused by the brigands.

They did uncover some considerable treasure, as well as correspondence to Randolph, the now assumed-dead leader of the castle from a certain "Dread Lord."   He ordered Randolph and his band of lizardmen and humans to kidnap Lord Athelstane and Lady Iris!

6th of SepDec, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
The party returned to Eding, requesting an audience with Torm, Athelstane, and Iris.   They presented their evidence, although the letter was now barely legible from water damage.   Lord Athelstane thanked the party, rewarding them even further, and declaring that Lady Iris would not leave his side. Word was then sent to Hydincall of the mysterious "Dread Lord."

Perhaps the temple was also an outpost of this evil person?  Naahh.. Let's drink instead!

DM Notes: Fun fact while turning the party journal into episodes,  This episode was only a quick journal entry in the voice of Maloran, but it was surely easier to piece together than the non-existent entry for the Temple of Alasku.  The initial session (#1-2) was some of my close friends, while the temple was played up at school with the rabid college players.  Neither Rolf nor Kane's players made it up that Saturday, and one of them had the journal.  Hopefully I've pieced together everything adequately.  

This adventure was inspired directly by The Castle on the Moors from DMGR2: The Castle Guide.  I initially ran it back in 1993 and 1994 games, the only big differences were that (a) the lizardmen were Dragonmen from Grenadier Miniatures, and (b) both times the PCs compromised the main doors and barely survived the ensuing flood.  At least this campaign had that (and Rolf's heroic acrobatics) going for it.  

Kane's player began wanting a monk more akin to Mortal Kombat than a fighting one, and I was more than happy to meet him halfway.   Create Water at low level shouldn't be used as a missile weapon, but it wasn't creating an unfair advantage in my mind.

The party missed the first not-so-subtle clues about the Dread Lord in the Temple of Alasku.  They knew trouble was in the air and that they may need to defend their new home.

At least until Maloran or Talis got the wrong girl pregnant and it was time to bolt... again.

NEXT #5: The Bells of Chardastes