Tuesday, July 23, 2024

(Gamma World) This is Not a Test #42 - Boson Higby

 Our heroes, the De Facto Explorers, have finally returned to their hometown of Riverbend for some much needed rest, artifact identification, and administration


Sneaky Pete: A mutated weasel scout.  Pete's telepathy and night vision take a backseat when he whips out his electrical powers.  

Sonny Helianthus: a sentient sunflower artifact examiner with trusted Restorationist ties. 

Slitheran Wurmtail (aka Squiggles): a mutated earthworm scout, in impromptu power armor, looking for trouble, and finding it often.  Previously "gave birth" to a litter of sentient earthworm babies, but recently has been subject to genetic testing and developed super-human strength, a more human body, and a thick coat of shaggy white hair.

Lathar Bracken: A pure-strain human from River Bend.  He's got the muscle, the face, and a mount for most encounters.  Lathar's trusty beast of burden, No Name, travels wherever he does. Looking for trouble in all the right places.  Recent jousting champion of Fair-Town and has been awarded... a peacock he has named Chambray.

RHA-9: A lab assistant piece of "Living Metal" that seems to have befriended the group... for now!  Currently getting repairs done by the Restorationists.


While the rest of the group continued their celebrations in town with Squiggles' children, Lathar walked No-Name back to his mom's home.  We was alarmed when he opened the door to screeching and a clattering of pots and pans.

The Lathar Homestead

"MAAAA!"  Lathar hollered as he walked into the living room. Turning the corner he could his mother standing in the kitchen, in a combat pose, wielding a cast iron frying pan at an unknown assailant. 

Walking closer, he could her opponent was his peacock, Chambray.  It sat atop the hearth in the kitchen, its feathers in full display.

"That son-of-a-bitch ate the necklace your father gave me!  Took it right off my neck."


"I was pondering, if you weren't coming home soon, how to prepare this bird."

"Let's not be too hasty."

Lathar grabbed the peacock and threw the bird into his bedroom. 

"Thank goodness.  How was your trip with your little friends."

"Nice, we're tired, probably all hungry.  Is there food ready?"

"Is there food?  Always sweetie, I'll warm something up."

"Excellent.   Chambray should pass his necklace in a day or so."

"And the rings... and the bracelet."


Lathar performed a few chores around the house, and right when the food was ready, the other Explorers rolled up to the house.

"Lathar!  Come out!  We've got something for you!"

The enforcer walked out to the front porch. His friends were still on the street, ogling a strange piece of technology.

"So we found a medkit for 3,000 domars, but we picked up this for you and No Name."

Lathar saw a sturdy tripod with some device atop it,  with two small horizontal tires. A spear was placed between the tires.

"It's an automatic spear-chucker,"  Squiggles proudly proclaimed.

Sonny quickly corrected him, "Technically, we should call it a ballista."

"You want me to strap this to the top of No Name?"  Lathar asked.

"We can work together to create a platform to stabilize it." Sonny suggested.  

Everyone came inside and had a meal, while covering all the news and rumors the found out around town.  

"We really need to see it the guy can be worked down in price, or at least in trade."   Pete chimed in.

"I was going to work on advancements on our muskets, but with our new weapons, that seems like a waste of time,"  Sonny lamented.   "I guess we can check out with Justinian tomorrow, and Lathar can work on that Bozo guy."


"Boson guy to trade for the gold bars and gold domars we got."

The next morning, the group, with Squiggle's children in tow, wandered to the distant side of town,  a collection of buildings around Boson's place almost formed its own separate village, but everyone knew their loyalties were towards the almighty domar.  

Townsfolk filled the neighborhood, making running their errands, and a distinctive collection of altered humans sitting around tables, day-drinking and smoking unknown substances.  Pete went a bit manic, worried that everyone could be a danger, but no one interacted with the rest of the party as they entered Boson Higby's Meatmarket.  

The inside was even more tables and chairs, with a large standing glass deli-case.  Half the case was filled with dried meats, the other was full of jewelry and trinkets of the ancients. 

A man with crackly skin entered the room, "Lathar?  You're causing the ruckus with the old ladies outside?  Why are you here, boy?"
Bosan Higby

Lathar produced a single gold bar, and Boson pulled out some equipment to test and measure it.  He grew more perplexed with each result.  

"Did you guys become river pirates?  I haven't seen a bar like this in years.  You digging for buried treasure?   What are you guys looking for?  Domars?"

"What do you have beyond the case?"

Boson led them to the back beyond a kitchen and pulled back a curtain.    Beyond the curtain were two anthropomorphic blackbirds, one wearing a hat, both of them quite dead. 

"Don't worry about da boids.  I assume they were bothering your little ones.  Don't worry, we took care of them, no charge.   Now, the plant looks smart, what do you make this?"

Beside the bird bodies was a large metallic object, definitely from the ancients. Sonny saw its sleek, cylindrical form with various components neatly arranged in a linear sequence.

"It definitely fell out of the sky.  Some of my neighbors hauled it back.  It's probably worth a lot more than the couple grand I can demand."

Sonny knew it resembled one of the smoke-belching motors of the flying living metal they had seen twice now in their wanderings.  There was one definite emblem on the item:
"This is above our price range, and we may take the gold bars elsewhere, if that's alright."

"I appreciate people who appreciate things like this.  I know if we didn't grab it, someone more nefarious, such as an evil version of you, may make this a whole lot worse for everyone.   Anyway, I have one object that's far more opulent than what I throw in the case. "

Boson pulled out a huge, oversized silver medallion with topaz bordering it. "This was found on da 'boids body."

Lathar offered the slugthrower shells and some other trinkets for the medallion.

"Good enough, youse guys get outta here, before I change my mind."

The symbol on the mysterious medallion

Emerging from Boson's market, they collected all the worm children.  The locals had taken a liking to these energetic kids with a complex to please people.  They had been running menial tasks for the men and earning a domar for each task.  All the children were upset that they needed to leave and wanted to revisit the nice men in the future.

Pete was leaning up against the wall, ensuring the safety of the wormlings. Upon seeing the medallion, Pete put it on and he felt his entire body hum.  Quickly taking it off, he informed the others.  The rest all took turns trying it on, but no one else felt the humming and vibrations like Pete. 

They finished their day with yet another visit to the Restorationists.  Justinian was happy to report that they could reinforce their living metal so it would take significant damage to set the self-destruct process and identified Sonny's pistol as an invisible heat ray.  There was some basic haggling over some of the minor Ancient's artifacts and the keycards for Rho Facility, enough to keep haggling with the medkit merchant to a minimum.  

GM Notes:  Squiggle's player, Steve, spoiled the high-tech ballista to the rest of the group, out of game.  He happens to coach his son's baseball team, and has a horrible track record using a pitching machine one for batting practice.   

Hilarity should still ensue.

Next: #43 -  ONE WEEK LATER

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Historicon 2024 - Most Excellent and Triumphant, Dude!

 Oh how it's good to be back in Lancaster... and milling about versus with the wargaming crowd at Historicon ... versus every other weekend I'm in Lancaster and walking shoulder to shoulder with the AAU basketball crowd at Spooky Nook.  

Last year, I made some arrangements to run my games early during the con, so I could catch my kid's games whenever they were scheduled Friday-Sunday. There were scheduling issues and tournament changes at the last second, to make all that moot, and then Maja had made the command decision to skip basketball to attend the con with me. 

This year, we knew early on that Maja would be in Atlantic City for the Historicon's weekend.  After  eight tournaments this spring/summer, it was deemed okay for me to miss the last one of the season, so I'd be going solo.  

Then Maja broke her wrist at a varsity away camp for school ball.  

While we assumed she was just going to live her best life with some much-needed books and air conditioning for a few weeks, at the 11th hour, she was raring to go, so  I was picking her up in the middle of a thunderstorm Wednesday evening. 

We showed up too late on Wednesday night to play anything, but there also wasn't a brawl going on for the luggage carts, so we got everything inside on one trip.

Thursday morning was a ten-second trip downstairs to scan my registration and get my free mini (Thanks Brigade Games).  We grabbed breakfast at La Dolce Vita.

By the time we got back, it was still early.  So early, the H.A.W.K.S still hadn't set up their banner.

At Fall-In! both of us were willingly cajoled into becoming judges for the PELAs.  We both had a blast hanging out with our fellow judges, wandering the Wyndham, observing games, and coming to a consensus.  Maja absolutely fell in love with it, so when an open slot was available Thursday morning, she signed up for it.  When one of the other two judges failed to show, I volunteered my services.  

54mm Great War

Friday morning was a total blast, as we walked around to all the rooms, discussing our own preferences/biases in addition to making sure we're adhering to the letter and then intent the PELA rules.  

I can't speak for my other judges but an inside look at our Thursday morning selections:

Vikings -  Little Wars - Hermitage .  Great Figures, great and compact terrain, high energy GM and high energy players.  A great (and beautiful) example of what you can do with limited space and a full table of players. 

Napoleonic Naval Wargame - in the corner in Commonwealth. Confession:  I hate Napoleonics.  I hate Age of Sail games at smaller scales.  Chalk it up to years of different experiences and biases.  The beautiful micro-terrain did draw me in, the two tables intrigued me, and the water piece to move ships between boards made me smile,  but what was occurring on it sold me.  I ACTUALLY WATCHED MULTIPLE SHIPS DO MULTIPLE ACTIONS!   It had a high energy-GM, a high energy assistant, engaged players reacting to the actions on the board.  

Judges getting trendy, no cap.... even though she's wearing a cap.  I'm so old....

Don't worry guys, Test of Honor won the PELA Thursday afternoon

A Vikings game based off of the TV show Vikings should have a different energy (Shout out to the guy who killed Ragnar.... just in case he didn't tell you in person during the con) than a Napoleonic wargame, but both seemed welcoming, engaging, and something anyone could walk up to to play and enjoy.  

Ragnar's Folly

One final rant:  I may be the majority, but the whole picture/handshake thing for the picture is a bit overdone.  I have no problem congratulating the GM by handshake, fist bump, bro hug, or interpretive dance, but I rather see the GM, their award, their table, and their support team get in the picture.   Your mileage may vary, of course.  


After the judging, Maja and I split up, wandering the con.  I hit the vendor hall and part of Wally's Basement.    


I let Maja decide on dinner and her choice of pizza and Google directions proved foolhardy, as there was no pizza place in that direction, and we discovered a large enclave of Lancaster's homeless population, then venturing further away.  Upon backtracking, we simply saw a sandwich board the read "Empanadas" and we ventured inside.  Cocina Mexicana was great.  The food was quick and diecious, the staff friendly, and as the only non-Spanish speaking folk we had a great time.  Adding it to our list for next time... with better walking directions.  

Frostgrave(?) with aquarium plants.

7pm Thursday was my first Gnome Wars game.  For some reason, we were given about half our normal tables, which was fine, as we had a cozy ten-player games.  

With the "Gnome King" missing Historicon, we kept things simpler, resorting to my collection of "gnome homes"  to create a culturally appropriate gnome village.  

It was the first few days of the War of the Wishing Wells, the first time the German Gnomes had invaded the Swiss with their full military.  With the armor and ordinance meeting logistical issues, it was up to front line infantry to seize the village on the Holy Shrine of Chucaquatre.
Foreign Observers for the League of Gnomes.... Observing
German and Sikhs had already seized the railway station and farms, and were moving towards the village, the church, and of course, the shrine.  
Three units of Swiss defended the town, leaving the fate of the Shrine to some British Marines who were quite far inland.  

Germans proceeded to torch most of the farmlands before becoming confused.  "Where dd most of the Swiss go?"   The appearance of a mysterious convoy provided them inadvertent cover.  
The Sikhs and British traded shots, but it was the Vampire and his legions of wolves and rats that dispatched most of the British.  
As the Sikhs tried to take advantage of the Vampire's mayhem, the ground gave way!  The Swiss Park Rangers had successfully tunneled under the road and surprise attacked the Sikhs.  The ensuing melee was horrific, with only the Sikh Officer and one trooper surviving! 
The 1st Swiss Militia had also tunneled and also popped out to surprise the advancing Germans... right in front of the mystery convoy!  
Meanwhile, League of Gnome Wargivers (Peacekeepers in a Gnomish world) arrived:  The French Foreign Legion!  They declared the Shrine of Chucaquatre a League of Gnomes Heritage Site and order everyone to vacant the shrine.  

The second Sikh unit and surviving British didn't take kindly to the ultimatum, and fired to great effect  before retreating. 
The vampire, desperate to feed on Gnome blood, was instead met by a barrage from the Swiss Limburger Grenadiers  I'll need to go back into the archives and if "Vampire vs Cheese" was a thing in the last 15 years, but the Vampire was sent scrambling to underneath the bridge.  It's uncertain if the beast from under the bridge destroyed the vampire , or the vampire simply perish from lack of eating.  

The Swiss Engineer player insisted in rescuing the lone bunny that fell across the railroad track. 


We woke up early for a two-pronged attack  Bistro Barberet and Bakery for Maja's mandatory macaroons (and my coffee) and a walk back to the Central Market for breakfast sandwiches.  A 10am BLT from them is highly recommended.  

Car Wars getting swaggy
After wandering the games, and vendor hall, we ventured up to Hobby U on the 4th floor for some painting.   No pictures, but the place was jamming with four classes and a full table of folks painting their free mini.  The folks at Hobby U are simply top notch and if you don't normally visit for a much-needed hour of painting and contemplation, I heartily recommend that your do!  

After painting, Maja returned to the room for a required teenager nap, and helped my friend Mike Lung set up his Fistful of Lead -Wasteland Warriors game, "Return to the Forbidden City

The Temple of Sirinx
Mike had one opening and I jumped in as the no-nonsense Priests of Sirinx.  They loved artifacts of the Ancients, and they hated dealing with new people.  Easy! 
All eight players had trouble searching for artifacts, releasing every wee-beastie, critter, and mutant spider-goat on the board.  Despite losing two of my priest early, and my leader bleeding out by a dumpster, I accumulated enough artifacts and met one new person... and killed them, for a respectable showing. 
Oscar the Gorilla Grouch for the Apocalypse

I finally woke up Maja and headed for dinner.  I led a small group to the Southern Market for the first time.  Everyone had a great experience, except for me, as everyone was finished with their food and prepping to go back by the time my meal from the soul food booth was finally ready.  Was it good? Oh yeah, but there was definitely a disconnect  there.  If I had realized the number of folks waiting 20-25 minutes, I may have decided to try another vendor.  Full Disclosure:  The food was fantastic. 

Friday night is Joust Night!   Twenty-four participants, three brand-new jousting cloths with the long-needed corrections on them, and in 105 minutes we were done.  It was a great mixture  

Congrats to Sir Joseph for his win!  

FINAL: Sir Joseph versus Carter

Saturday morning, we ventured back over to the Central Market for our reliable Mennonite breakfast sandwiches, only to discover they were out of eggs!  If the freakin' Mennonites don't have eggs, how can any of us think about getting by.  

Luckily Maja's adapts easily in into a sausage and cheese sandwich (BLT for me), and after Lingonberry refreshers, we headed back for our second round judging together. 

With three judges, we probably had about 20 games combined  marked down, in the very active 9-11am timeslot, but despite a 60 year age gap between judges, we came to a unanimous consensus on our first PELA, and needed a quick second walk through to compare games to determine the second winner.   

Hudson River Valley 54mm 

Maja and I traversed back down to the Southern Market, switching roles.  My two slices of pizza were more than adequate and Maja order the chicken sandwich from the soul food vendor and had much better success with a quick order.  So quick that I grabbed mac 'n cheese to go.  

Tora! Tora! 
Maja went off to do her final round of judging, leaving me to do more rounds of socializing and shopping. I ultimately went back to volunteer at the Awards desk (which is an incredible Information desk location as well, with it's location at top of the escalator.  It was nice to feel helpful to a number of people). 
Gratuitous Awards Desk Selfie. 

Pennsylvania Pete

Modern - Fighting in Chad
After her final judges duties were complete, I sat around at the Awards Desk for another hour because *GASP* Maja actually found a game to play.  All that judging, and she managed to sneak in an hour at the Aerodome table!   She even earned her wings for her first kill! 

Following through on a promise, we walked down to Sweetish, the Swedish/Scandinavian candy shop.  Needless to say, outside of Maja's leftovers from her chicken sandwich  and my mac 'n cheese at the end of the night, we were purely powered by candy for the rest of the day.

HOT FUZZ!!!!!!

Sherlock Holmes

Gnome Game!
We did managed to put six or seven tables together for a right-sized game of Game Wars.    Borrowing a cloth from Mike, we had the village on green, and a crazy desert wasteland on the tan.  
The Swiss regained control of the village and the Germans were planning a second attack.  The Mormons protected the League of Gnomes mandated Heritage Site for the well.    On the desert board, Sikhs, Australians, and Californians fought Germans, Russians, 

The Swiss aren't waiting for German assault.

A mysterious convoy arrives
I was a bit disappointed that we had only eleven players, only three folks with their own armies, and  zero kids in the game.  There is a different vibe when you're youngest folks there are 25, but the dudes embraced the crazy vibe in the desert, while the folks in the village played a traditional wargame... with gnomes.  Everyone seemed to have a blast, and that's my only concern for each game.  

First rule of Snail Curling.... we don't talk about Snail Curling. 

Vampire vs the Pig... coming soon on VHS

Sunday I crawled out of bed around 9am, picked up one thing from Wally's and spent about ten minutes in the passive line waiting for a luggage cart before giving up, taking two trips, but moving the car to a closer spot for the second run.  We meandered the Amish countryside before grabbing lunch in Reading and going through Pottsville before dropping Maja off at home and I unloaded the car in my apartment.  All in all, a fantastic convention:


Lancaster Convention Center:  After years of doing things, I finally have the lay of the land.  Getting things set up can be a nightmare, with the elevators and ramps.    Commonwealth is still dark as sin at times, and Hermitage was deafening from Friday morning until Saturday at lunch.  I did appreciate the extra lighting for the Commonwealth hallway games (the area with the big window looking down at the vendor hall.  
Mike's 2nd Fistful of Lead game
Hotel:  After a minor snafu Wednesday night ,the hotel was great.  So long as a sleeping teenager wasn't in the room, room service was stellar, and, to Maja's joy, the pool renovations were finally completed, so she got to swim twice.  

Parking:    We found a good spot on Wednesday night and refused to move until Sunday.   As a guest of the hotel, I had zero problems getting validated, although the pass itself is pretty flimsy, and I feared losing it, no matter where I stored it. 

Vendors:   It was nice to see the Vendor Hall slowly encroach upon the tournament area, even if three or four vendors didn't show up.  Personally, I was looking for some select items and wanted to avoid paying for shipping, so it was perfect for me. 
Wally's Basement: Well-attended, smiles of folks coming out with stuff, even some smiles from the sellers.  So long as the location 

Rant!:  Somehow I missed the biggest issue of the con!   All of the events put on by clubs on Saturday (a large number) never made it to the convention book!  This means my Saturday night Gnome Wars game may have had tickets, but without a listing, people won't look for an event that isn't listed.  Mike's Fistful of Lead game had five pre-regs, but no add-ons, because of the omission.  Missing events were not listed anywhere at the events desk.    Unacceptable!  


  • An Apples to Apple "One with Everything" for $5.
  • Some MBA pices (All Maja wanted were Macaroons and the MBA cat statue.
  • Howard Hues Ruddy Flesh x2
  • Huge Minis - Medium Grit and more flowers.
  • Arena of Blood and accompanying deck of cards
  • 6x Miscellaneous Brigade Games minis for Pulp.
  • Necromunda Magazine #1 
  • 6 x Foundry figs
  • 15x Reaper figs
  • 2x Legions of Steel.  The Mark III Assault Fiend and Volcano BAP are huge! 
  • Codex: Space Wolves in French.   Maja is a Francophile starting her third year in French in high school.  Anything I find in French helps her studies.... Even if they aren't called loups de l'espace
Fall-in! 2024 is up next and is November 1-3  at the Wyndham Resort in Lancaster.  We are actively trying to interpret the theme "Horrors of War."

Historicon 2025 will remain at the Lancaster Convention Center, July 16-20, 2025