Friday, December 30, 2011

Time To Do Some Camping!

I recently ordered a bunch of Star Wars minis from Miniature Market that I'm going to re-purpose for Mutants and Death Ray Guns by Ganesha Games (pics to follow soon).  This also got me looking at my terrain collection.  Though I have pretty good selection available the one thing that's really missing is some post apocalyptic pieces so I've decided to start building up that end of my terrain spectrum.

Shelter is one of the basic necessities of life so it seems like a natural place to start.  Rather than doing more permanent structures first, I decided to focus something more mobile such as tents.  This also gave me an excuse to try out some new modelling techniques so it was off to the workbench I went!

For my tents I'm using some pretty common household items.  The frames for the tents are actually some of those one serving fruit cups (minus the fruit of course) though you could also use some of the one cup plastic containers that you can find in the grocery store.  You could just leave the cup intact use the side of the cup as a door but the plastic is soft enough that you can easily cut them with scissors.

Now to actually have a tent you need a cover for the "frame".  For this I grabbed an old t-shirt and started cutting!  You could just use scraps of cloth instead of chopping up your clothes but you need to make sure that the fabric isn't to stiff since it's going to be draped over the cup.  Just make sure that you cut a slit in the fabric so you have an entrance, otherwise your tents are going to offer much shelter.

Next I put a liberal amount of glue on the cup and set it aside while I prepped the fabric.  An important thing to do is make sure you put some around the edge of the cup so that the fabric will stick firmly to it.

With the cup set aside its time to get some glue onto the fabric as well.  To do this I spread a liberal amount on one side of the fabric then crumpled it up and ran it under water.  This gets the glue to permeate through the fabric which will make the whole structure much more durable once it dries.

While its still wet, put the fabric onto the cup making sure to press it down so that it sticks closely to the "frame".  Also make sure that you press it down around the edges otherwise it might pop off later.  After this its time to put it down and walk away.  I'd give it at least a day to fully dry though you might want to trim off any excess fabric during this time before the glue completely dries.

This gives you plenty of time to make the rope that runs around the bottom of the tent.  For this I used thin gauge floral wire twisted around itself.  The easiest way to do this take a good length of wire and fold it in half.

Then stick a pen, pencil, dowel (you get the idea...) through the loop and hold the other ends with some pliers.  While you hold on twirl the pen around to get the wires to wrap tightly around itself and voila!  Somewhat instant rope!

Once the fabric is dry, its time to thread the rope around the base of the tent.  The easiest way to do this is use a drill to make holes through the hardened fabric and the cup.

Once you have holes spaced all the way around the edge of the cup thread the wire through.  I originally tried to do this by threading it through the way you would by sewing but I found it much easier to use several separate lengths of wire around the edge.  You can also do this up the sides or anywhere else you want but that's up to you.

With the wire attached, its time to paint!  I originally went for just dirty browns as I like how it fits with the whole apocalyptic feel but I then I decided to through in a green as well just to mix it up.

And there you have it!  Yes, you too can have your own post apocalyptic tent city!  This project is a little time consuming because of the drying time but overall its really simple and I'm very happy with how they turned out.  If you give it a try yourself I'd love to know how it turns out or if you have any improvements I'd love to hear about those as well.  Until next time...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sometimes One More Option Is One Too Many

"So where should we go for dinner?"

"Well, I could do Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill. We haven't had Tony Roma's for a while.  Oh, and there's Applebee's or Joe's Crab Shack.  I guess I could do Sweet Tomatoes as well.  Or there's Beanos or Denny's."

"Ummm... okay?"

Having options is a good thing but there does come a point when too much is just that.  As I alluded to last week, this is something that I tend to think the Pathfinder game suffers from.  Now don't get me wrong; I've enjoyed every Pathfinder session that I've played in and I'm really looking forward to get back to SpacerGal's homebrew campaign setting.  The really daunting thing about the system, especially for new players, is the sheer number of options that you have available to you when you are trying to build a character.

The core rulebook contains eleven different classes.  This is not too bad really as the choices run the typical gamut for fantasy from spell slingers to sword wielders and everything in between.  Where things start to get a little more complicated is when you bring in the Advanced Players Guide.  Six more basic classes to choose from and more than half dozen alternate class features to apply to each the original eleven classes.  Then throw in Ultimate Magic which only adds one new magic class but gives all the existing magic classes half dozen or more additional options and Ultimate Combat which does the same for the martial classes.

Now that is a ton of options which is great... unless you have no idea what you want to play and you are just trying to see what your options are.  Then you're looking at potentially having books worth of material to go through as you try to figure out what works best for you which can be kind of overwhelming, especially for new players.

So how do you deal with this glut of information that has been handed to you?  Well, as a player I'd suggest really thinking about what sounds like something you want to play and then asking the GM for their advice.  Which kind of a magic user would you enjoy exploring and which would fit best in their campaign?  The GM is also usually very familiar with the game system and can really help you fine tune your choice.

From the other side of the screen, I'd suggest the GM offer some guidance and maybe even limitations on the options available to players.  Setting these kinds of guidelines can also be helpful for laying out and shaping your story.  Maybe you're aiming for a low magic setting.  Take some of the magical classes off the books right from the start so you don't have to worry about fitting a wizard or sorcerer into the world you've created.  The same can be said for a more civilized setting.  How exactly would you fit a barbarian into that kind of game?  Admittedly that sounds like it could be an interesting twist but unless you were trying to focus on that character fitting into a completely different world you run the risk of either leaving that character our of the loop or leaving the rest of the characters hanging out to dry as you focus too much on that story.

Ultimately communication is the key to making sure that everyone buys in and has a good time with the game so ask the GM and if you need to put them on the spot.  Likewise as a GM don't be afraid to say "No" if someone is trying to pull something into your game that doesn't fit in.  You're all in this together so make sure that everyone is having a good time with it.  Until next time...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Listening To The Pipes Of Peace

When I was much younger I saw a video that stuck with me even after all these years.  I always remembered the story but I never could remember the name of the song.  It was sung by Paul McCartney but other than the story that played out in the video I couldn't remember anything else.

This year I decided to look around to see if I could find it and after a quick Google search it popped right up, along several other pages about the historic Christmas Truce of 1914.

As the first year of the Great War drew to a close, thousands of British and German soldiers along the Western Front engaged in an unofficial ceasefire.  Rifles set aside, soldiers from both sides sing Christmas carols across No-Man's Land and in some stretches of the Front they even exchanged gifts and souvenirs.

British and German soldiers meeting in No Man's Land during the Christmas Truce

High command on both sides were furious when they heard about this happening and issued strict orders forbidding friendly communication with enemy troops.  Though a few units disobeyed these orders later in the War, it was never on the massive scale that occurred that first Christmas.  Even so it's good to know that during one of the most brutal conflicts in the history of man people were able to set aside their differences for even just one day in celebration of the season.

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and we hope that all of you have a joyous and safe holiday season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Skinning One Cat To Re-Skin Another

With our latest Pathfinder campaign I decided to break out of the mold and try something that I've never done before; I'm playing a spell caster.  I've always stayed away from these classes in the past because of the limitations of the spells.  "Okay guys, I've cast my one spell for the day.  Guess I'll just hang back and read a book while you guys finish exploring the dungeon."  I mean really, what fun is that?

Thankfully Pathfinder addresses that problem by giving you access to some minor spells that you have unlimited use of.  Sure they're not going to stop a raging demon out of the Nine Hells but something's better than nothing.  Of course the problem after that was which kind of spell caster.  After all, one thing that Pathfinder isn't lacking is a ridiculously variety of classes to choose from (but more on that another time...).  After digging around (and listening to what everyone else was playing...) I finally decided to try my hand at being a sorcerer.  Of the magical classes it seems to be the one that's easier to grow with.  Wizards need to be able to spend some time researching and studying to really advance themselves whereas sorcerers just have the stuff more or less pop into their head.  Gotta love that, right?

Next I choose my race, bloodline, what color socks I'm wearing, etc, etc... All the little details that go into making a Pathfinder character.  Then I hopped right over to Reaper Miniatures to search for the perfect mini.  Not a requirement for an RPG but I really like having my own little mini me to call my own so its a must in my book.  It was while I was searching for my round 25mm bases that I stumbled on this little blast from the past.

This figure is one of a familiar set that was released by Reaper years ago.  I love all the figures in the set but this one was always my favorite.  With this old treasure in hand, I headed right back to my character sheet to rebuild my sorcerer so I could somehow have a familiar which of course is where the problem came in.

This little guy is obviously not an animal which is the "normal" familiar for the magical classes.  In fact the closest that I could come up with was a homunculus but that's a higher level spell than we were starting with and I wanted to make sure I could use the little dude in the game right from the get go.  That's when the old gears really started grinding away in my melon and I came up with a plan.

Getting SpacerGal on the horn I explained my dilemma and asked him if I could re-skin one of the familiar types into something completely different conceptually but leave it the same mechanically.  He thought for a second and decided why not so off I went to the books again to figure out just what he was going to be.  After much hemming and hawing I finally decided to base him on the cat familiar that wizards have.  This makes him somewhat effective in combat and makes him ridiculously stealthy which I really liked the idea of.  One second he's there and then he suddenly seems to vanish and reappear somewhere else.  After some minor tweaks, my new wizard/sorcerer character was ready to rock... along with his own version of "Toto" too.

The idea of re-skinning some aspect of your game is something that I don't think many people think of but its always an option you should keep in mind.  Just because the rules say "You have a dog that obediently follows you around wherever you go" doesn't mean that you can't change it up and make it some kind of manservant that your family sent out to keep an eye on you.  Doing this not only gives you more creative freedom to make an exciting and interesting character but also makes that character your own.  Talk with your DM/GM/Keeper/whatever they might be this week and tell them your ideas.  Work together and not only will you be able to create a character that you're really interested in playing but you might even throw the GM something to play with too.  Just think of how many times has Batman had to go save Robin's butt over the years or vice versa.

So remember; just because you can't find exactly what you have in mind in the book doesn't mean that you can't do it.  Look beyond the confines of the rules and talk it out so that you can make it a great gaming experience for everyone at the table.  Until next time...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gettin' Fancy With Technology

Hey y'all! Once again I return from the Warp with a big review, this time in video form! Get crazy, right? This one is a Child at Heart review looking at Marvel Slingers from UDE, a fun little fast-paced dexterity game aimed at that ever-so-valuable 8-12yo demographic. Hope you like the review, and maybe we can get a steadier camera for next time. This is from my Windows Phone, so I apologize for the low quality in advance. Catch me next time with a playthrough video and review of the World of Warcraft TCG Dungeon Decks and the corresponding Fall 2011 Starter Decks geared towards play with the Dungeon Decks. 'til next time, Vegas gamers. SpacerGal out!

Now This Is Pretty Awesome

Someone on Google+ posted this one and I just had to pass it along.  Very cool action and effects, not to mention the little surprise at the end.  Check it out!

What can I say?  I'm a Star Wars geek.  More coming soon, including an article of some kind about something or other by the ever elusive SpacerGal.  Until next time...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting Back To The Torment

Unfortunately our gaming group is still on hiatus (ah, the joys of Christmas retail...) so I decided to go way back and start looking at some of the things I've touched on before here to try to find a little bit of gaming inspiration.  Took a bit but after doing a bit of digging I remembered my Songs of Torments Reach hack I was working on and decided to dust it off and give it another run through.

So where is all this going?

To a battle report of course!

Once again I had my Guild crew take the field against my Arcanist crew.  A very small game (only 400 points total...) but still enough to try some stuff out.  So how did it go?  Read on to find out!

Sonnia and her small band of enforcers had tracked down Sasha Dubois and her gang at a small cabin on the outskirts of the bayou.

Sneaking forward they hoped to gain the element of surprise... and almost managed to do it!  Sonnia ordered the two Guild Guards forward but appartently they weren't expecting to lead the way and instead did nothing at all.

Hearing the attempted battle cry from Sonnia, Sasha and her crew quickly sprang into action.  Sasha ran over to activate Boomer before taking cover behind the cabin while Taryn took a covering position.  Valeria boldly strode forward and let loose a barrage of shoots at Sonnia but her magical screen proved to be too much as she effortlessly deflected the bullets.

Boomer then thundered forward on his massive iron feet, getting into position to attack the next turn.

Realizing the threat that Boomer posed to her crew, Sonnia moved into the open and let loose a blast of magical flames which sent the metal beast hurling back into the building and knocked him to the ground, but did little else.

Samael and one of the guards opened fire on Valeria but their shoots went wild while the convict gunslinger Jeremiah Smythe quickly moved around the far side of the cabin to try to flank the Arcanists.

Valeria charged towards Samael with her guns blazing and pushed him back into the small copse of trees while Taryn clambered over the prone form of Boomer and let loose a couple shots at Sonnia.  Once again her shield proved to be too much and the bullets were harmlessly deflected.

Boomer then sprang into action.  Virtually leaping to its feet, the metal monstrosity charged forward and smashed into Sonnia, sending her crippled form to the ground.

With their leader dead, almost all of the Guild crew paniced and headed for the hills.  In the end only Samael remained and with blood in his eyes he quickly moved to attack his prey.

Effortlessly skirting through the woods, he made a beeline for Sasha and his volley of shots drives her to the ground.

Her quickly regains her composure and returns fire at the trapper but to no avail.  The rest of the crew was also caught offguard and only Valeria is able to react to this new threat.  Even so her shots go wide and Samael remains undetered.

Again Samael opens fire on Sasha and again he forces her to the ground but isn't able to get a solid hit on the Arcanist.  Having realized what was happening, Taryn runs forward and helps Valeria finally take Samael down.

Overall, I liked how the game played out.  I used the ranged combat modifiers from Flying Lead this time and it actually did make the guns more effective over all.  Not too many shots connected but unlike my first play through with these groups they were at least able to try shooting at each other.  I am thinking that Boomer might be a bit too overpowered at the moment.  Currently he has a Combat 5 which makes him nigh unstoppable to most attacks so I think I'll knock him down to a 4 in the future.  I also liked how Sonnia was such a glass cannon.  At range she was virtually untouchable but as soon as Boomer got into hand to hand it was over.

Now I just have to see what other crews I can scrounge together to get to the table.  Several are in the works but none are finished yet.  Still gives me something to do until we can get the group together again.  Until next time...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Talk About A Blast From The Past

I thought I'd do something a little different for this Monday's pictures. I was recently sent this link and I just had to pass it along.

Yeah, who's going to trust some random link you happen to find on someone's blog, right? There's just a few too many mentally scaring images out there that are the last thing in the world you would want to see but this one is different.

The Aluminum Overcast is a restored B-17G-VE operated by the Experimental Aircraft Association.  This group tours the country and gives people the opportunity to tour or sometimes even fly in this WWII aircraft

The photos on the site were taken by amateur photographer Bernard Zee and you can find more photos at his home page.  Even if you don't take a look at what else he has there, I definitely recommend taking at look at his shots of the Aluminum Overcast as they are really impressive.

Interested in finding out more about this historic aircraft?  Well I've got a link for that too!  You can find more information about this plane, tours dates, and prices at the Fly The Fortress website.  Hope you all enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Throwing In A Touch Of Home Brew

For our games of Gamma World and D & D 4e I've decided that I'm going to throw in a little bit of a home brew on the rules. Not sure exactly how well it will work but I like the idea so I figure I'll give it a shot and see what happens.  The first of these has to do with hit points.

I think this is one of the things that bugs people the most about D & D.  You hit somebody with a huge sword and they stand there, smile, and then return the favor.  Doesn't really make that much sense when you think about it even for a fantastic setting.  I mean come on, its a frickin' sword!  No two ways about it, that's gonna leave a mark.

What I've decided to do is take hit points in a slightly different direction so that they make a little more sense.  Instead of them representing purely how much physical abuse you can take, they are also going to represent fatigue in the battle.  If you think about it, parrying or dodging that massive sword is going to start wearing you down almost as much as being hit by it.  This isn't to say that the players lose hit points just for moving around or being missed; that would be a little too harsh in my mind.  No, instead this will represent them blocking or dodging the blows in the narrative though they'll still take some damage.  Only hit for 5 hit points?  Well, that's probably at best a scratch and might even just be a solid punch.

So the question is "Where's the house rule?" That comes into play when players (and monsters... gotta be fair after all...) take a massive hit, say equal to their bloodied value.  A blow like this is truly devastating and it makes sense that you're not going to be performing up to par after that. In game terms this is represented by a -2 modifier on all rolls except for damage (seems like that would be a little too harsh).  Of course its not too easy to inflict that much damage in one blow so I'm also going to apply this when a creature becomes bloodied as well.  To me the name says it all; you're bloodied.  You've taken a beating and while you're not ready to lie down and die, you're not going to be as nimble as you normally would.  This also helps the idea of the second wind make a little more sense.  It isn't some kind of magical healing that is flowing through your body, its you pausing in the fight to catch your breath for a second.

My other idea is a little more... dramatic.  Normally in 4e your character earns action points that you can spend to take another action on your turn.  I really like this mechanic as I think it really pushes forward the idea that the characters are supposed to be big damn heroes and helps them live up to it.  In addition to the regular action points, I'm also going to introduce drama points (though I might call it something else...).  

Unlike action points which have a limit on how often you can use them, the drama point is more open ended and can be spent to give you a re-roll any time you want.  Choke on a crucial to hit roll?  Spend a drama point and re-roll it!  Fail that diplomacy check and make an ass out of yourself to the dragon?  Pop a drama point and try again!

So what's the catch?  A free re-roll?  Heck yeah I'll take that!  The catch is that you have to earn them with role play.  It could be something as simple as a good concept in character generation or strong back story to some solid role play around the table later in the game.  This is supposed to be a role playing game after all so why not encourage it?

Of course the real question is how do these ideas work in practice.  Theories are wonderful things but until they're successfully applied they don't really mean much.  For that we'll just have to see what happens when we get back to the table.  Until next time...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Martians And Monsters And Ravens, Oh My!

For some reason just started getting links to movie trailers on my FB page.  Must've clicked something somewhere but that's neither here nor there.  I did what to point out two of the trailers though as they look incredible.  First up is John Carter.

Based on the character from the Barsoom novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the trailer just blew my away.  I must admit that I've never read any of the novels (though I'm looking to rectify that asap...) but visually this just looks stunning.  Here are a couple of shots that I managed to scrap up.

Martian cityscape

Some kind of martian flyer

Just these two look beautiful to me but I really recommend checking out the official trailers here.  Not only do they look to be good to watch but man the gaming ideas you can rip from these!  The crazy thing is there are already miniatures out there for most of the main characters and creatures from the movie.  Where can you find these you ask?  Bronze Age Miniatures.  Not only do they have a John Carter mini in their catalog (though not under that name), they also have the four armed apes and martians as well!  Just an FYI though, apparently the folks at Bronze Age tend to feel that tops are definitely optional for women so don't say I didn't warn you.  Now I just hope that somebody makes toys/models of those martian flyers....

Oddly enough the next movie is not from Disney though they did make it popular the first time around.  This time the story has a slightly different spin as the Snow White appears to be something of a badass.

This is probably a good thing for her too as this time the evil queen isn't just trying to kill her, she wants to eat her heart too!  This is another trailer that looks really impressive and it sounds like an interesting twist on the old story.  No link to the trailer for this one I'm afraid but I definitely recommend checking it out when you have a chance.  Oh, and make sure that you look for Snow White and the Huntsman as there is another Snow White movie called Mirror, Mirror which comes out next spring as well.  Unlike the SW&H which has a dark and grim feel to it, the other one looks like more of a mindless comedic take on the whole thing.

Until next time...

Friday, November 25, 2011

And We Go A Frolicking In The Vale

I have recently been picking up some of the "new" Dungeons and Dragons Essentials books and I have to saw that I really like what I see.  In fact Spacer has even expressed an interest in trying it out so this is another game that I've added to our gaming queue.  Unlike the Gamma World or Leviathos adventures, I want to run this game mostly right out of the books.  I like the setting and the stories that that the folks at Wizards have created for the Essentials products so I'm really excited to explore them.  They have also thrown enough other juicy tidbits into the setting that it would be very easy to build on them and create some really interesting stories.

That said I really don't see running this one past tenth level which is the end of the Heroic tier in the game.  Once you get past this point it seems like things start to bog down as the number of powers and hit points and effects all pile on top of each other.  Of course this opinion is only based on what I've heard of actual plays that are way up there in level and don't feature the Essentials products but I'd rather end things with a pleasant taste in everyone's mouth instead of the bitter pill of rules grind.

So what's so special about Essentials that could make it different?  Well it seems somewhat trimmed down from the regular 4e experience based on what I've read and heard on podcasts.  Rather than bogging you down with tons and tons of choices for your characters, they've really slimmed things down but still give you the option of adding more from the other products if you want.

I really like this approach as it makes the game seem much more approachable (go figure...) and gives a pretty reasonable gateway for people interested in taking a look at this game.  In fact I'm even thinking about making a couple of adventures that I can run to introduce my daughter to this part of my hobby.  Probably somethings with goblins since I have all those minis already... but more on that later.  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Are You Ready For The Ultimate Prize?

While flipping through recommendations on Netflix I stumbled on something that really surprised me.  Sit down and strap in because we are about to race for the ultimate prize.

This is an anime with a twist.  It's not just Japanese... it's also French!  Created by Savin Yeatman-Eiffel and first airing in 2006, this anime follows the story of a team of star racers from Earth (think podracers from Phantom Menace but much, much cooler... and they have guns too!) that have been invited to join the Great Race of Oban.  The prize for winning the Great Race?  Well, to find that out you'll just have to watch!

With lots of action and characters that really pull you into their personal struggles as they work together to win the race, this is an incredible series.  When I first started it up I was a little skeptical but I found that it quickly drew me in and left me wanting to find out more of the story, not to mention the crazy Car Wars like action of the race itself.  I definitely recommend checking this one out if you haven't already!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Leviathos Arises Again!

This week we finally managed to get role playing back to the gaming table!  We are once again returning to Spacer's wonderful, watery world of Leviathos but this time with a twist.  Originally Spacer had been running this as an open world campaign; basically just laying out the sandbox and letting us run wild in it.  He did plan out a few parts of it but he really tried to give us a ton of free reign.... which seems to have been part of the problem.

Things were flying along at a breakneck speed!  We were about to betray our former employer as she prepared to start a war against a powerful empire, that same empire had just found the hidden cove that served as one of her bases, we were running to get onto a ship to head to the frozen waters of the north with a crew that we didn't know if we could trust and even other party members we didn't know if we could trust... and then the writer's block hit.  Spacer had a mental overload and sadly the story ground to a halt.

Time has gone by and inspiration has struck for him again but this time he's looking at things a little differently.  Instead of the open ended epic campaign of all eternity he has scaled it back to a more manageable size and I have to admit that I'm glad.  Sprawling epics are all well and good but as I've mentioned before having an ending is so much more satisfying.  That's not to say that we can't revisit these characters in the future, far from it.  It just means that one story can finish before another begins... and hopefully means that I can get some more of my games to the table but more on those later.

The thing that I really wanted to mention was what Spacer did to tie up the infamous "you meet in a tavern" loose end that plagues so many games.  Just why the heck is this random band of misfits together anyway?  I mean really, a dwarven barbarian, a half-elven druid, and a very refined half-elven sorcerer of extremely high caliber? (bet you can't guess who I'm playing...) Why in the world would they have anything to do with each other?

To tie us together (and give us a little mechanical perk as well), the story Spacer is telling focuses on a dwarven archaeologist and anthropologist (aka tomb robber) turned tavern owner who we all dealt with at one time.  The barbarian has worked in his bar before, the druid has helped on some of his digs years ago, and I was also in his employ in the past as well... no doubt doing something scholarly and noble as fits the skills of one of my high quality and distinction.  (yep, this time I'm playing egotistical bastard)  The tavern owner went missing and his wife sent us letters asking us to come to the tavern and find him.  Three totally random people who have nothing to do with each other except we all know the same guy... who actually isn't missing and asks us all to help him.

Personally I love this idea as the one thing that always seems to be lacking in the beginning of an adventure is a reason for the group to be together in the first place.  Our first foray into Leviathos and my Wastelands game had both lacked this and it was really something that bothered me so I'm really excited to see how he's addressed it.  Now we just have to do the job and not kill each other.  Ah yes, good times....  But more on that later.  Until next time...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back To The Wastelands

Its time to hope on the role play tour bus to start looking at some of the ideas that I've got floating around.  The first stop on this little whirlwind expedition is Gamma World.

Though it's been months since my group sat down for our one (and unfortunately only) game of Gamma World, we have been looking at bringing it back to the table again with a few modifications.  When we first did it, the players had a really hard time with the completely random nature of the character generation system.  Random equipment is one thing but random everything made it really hard to get their heads around the characters so I've decided to make a few changes.

The first thing is the whole random origin system.  Not even being able to choose your origins made developing a character concept really hard for my players so I've decided to introduce some free will to the process.  Instead of using the random tables, I'm going to let the players pick their origins so they can get into the character's heads a little easier.

Next up is the rolling the abilities themselves. According to the rules you roll up most of the stats in order using 3d6 which is all well and good but it leave you with a really erratic bunch of scores.  Instead I'm pulling in the point buy system for abilities from D & D 4e as it gives the players more control and puts most of their scores at a minimum of 10.  The characters are supposed to be heroes after all so it only makes sense that they wouldn't have a bunch of scores that are below average.  How the origins relate to the abilities has been tweaked as well.  Instead of giving them an auto 18 in their primary and 16 in their secondary I've changed it to a +2 and a +1 for each so that it fits better with the point buy system.

I'm also not a fan of how the skills are handled.  According to the rules, you have a +4 in skills relating to each of your random origins and a +4 in another random skill.  Again its all just a little too random in my opinion.  Instead each origin gives a +2 bonus to their related skills and then giving the player eight points to apply as they see fit.

Last but not least (as far as character generation anyway...), we are going to choose the alpha mutations instead of randomly drawing them.  We did this in the other game and the players really like having control over at least that one aspect and really helped them start to develop characters a little.

Overall I'm really hoping this will help my players get more into their characters as I've got a few ideas for Gamma World campaigns that I'd really love to run.  Just what are these ideas?  Well I'm glad you asked!  Right now I have three different setting/campaign ideas that I kicking around.

1) The Wastelands Campaign: With the Kaiute tribes moving south into the United City States of Texas, its only a matter of time until the new south of Merica erupts into a massive bloodbath.  Preparing for war, the future looks grim until a lone wanderer staggers back from the wastelands to the west with stories of tombs of the Ancients.  Could this blasted land hold the secret to their salvation?
This campaign is actually the one that we had already started and is the most fleshed out.  Basically its a mix of wild west and post apoc all rolled into one.  Can't go wrong with that, right?  This gives the region a somewhat lawless feel while still having some semblance of  civilization.

2) The End of Times Campaign: Life is almost idyllic in the Dah-Koh-Tah territories of old Merica until rumors begin to circulate about an ancient menace coming from the north. Is it just idle chatter or have the evils of the End Times returned to finish the job they started all those years ago?

This was actually my original idea for our Gamma World campaign though I didn't get it as fleshed out as the Wastelands idea.  I was also trying to set it in the region of the published adventures so that I could easily pull those in if I wanted to.  Nothing like having a published adventure on hand just in case your feeling a little lacking in the creativity department.  Even so these are just fall backs as I've already got some pretty solid ideas for this one as well.

3) The Rise of Empires Campaign: While most of Gamma Terra struggles to maintain some kind of order, the self proclaimed Empire of Humanity has risen out of the ashes to the east. Is this a benevolent power that can restore order to the broken land or just another tyranny that will threaten the world with its grab for power?

I went seriously old school for this idea as I've pulled a lot of the initial concepts from the old After The Bomb supplement for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG from years ago.  I'm definitely going to tweak it to give it my own flavor but this is a setting that has always been near and dear to my heart.

So which one will it be in the end?  Well, I'm not sure.  I've sent off the three ideas to my players and right now I'm just wanting on some feedback from them as to which one interests them the most.  Hopefully they'll let me know soon and then I'll be sure to pass along the good word.

That's about all the radiated goodness for now but there is more to come as the ideas just keep bouncing around my noggin.  Until next time...

Friday, November 11, 2011

So Many Ideas, So Little Gaming Time...

As we move into November work is slowly building up for two members of our group.  Ah yes, the joys of retail Hell... Black Friday, the last minute sales, the returns... Esh.  Sometimes I'm glad I'm not in retail.  Unfortunately this means that for gaming the next two months are going to be sloooowwwwwww...  As I said, esh.

In the meantime I've got a some time to brew up and fine tune some role playing ideas so I thought I'd throw them out here on the blog.  Not only does this give me a chance to get the thoughts down on "paper" but I can also let them stew around to see what cooks up.  Some of these are fairly well developed (such as the Gamma World game that we're talking about possibly rebooting) while some of the them are just pipe dreams that I want to fine tune some more (such as the Toon one shot I want to run).  As you can see the games cover a broad range of genres and game systems but they all have two things in common.

1) I want to be able to run them all in chapters (except of course for the one shots).  This doesn't mean that I want every adventure to only last for one night but I really want to make sure that each session ends with a logical stopping point.  I know it seems pretty obvious but with as erratic as our gaming schedule sometimes gets I want to make sure that we end sessions at logical breaks in the story in case we miss some sessions or are missing a player in the next session.  Hopefully this will let us pick up and continue onward without too much difficulty.

2) All of the stories have an end.  Be they a short campaign or a one shot, I want to make sure that there is a definite story arc to the overall plot so that we don't wind up with the whole open ending on a campaign.  Stories are more satisfying when they have a definite end to them rather than just rambling on and on.  This isn't to say that the stories can't continue but I want that to be a group decision and not some desire to get closure to the story.

Hopefully keeping these two aspects in mind will make it easy for the group to getting into the games and give the stories enough life to play out to the end.  Of course only time will tell but ya gotta start somewhere, right?  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Wench Thought That Was Her Tip

There's been a bit of a lull around here lately as I've been busy with Halloween but I'm back, this time for a look at some drunken revelry.  Grab your gold my friends because its time to go to...

Spacer first introduced me to this little gem and I was instantly hooked.  Yeah, it's really that good.

In this game the players are a group of adventurers.  Having entered the dungeon, slain the monsters, and defeated the evil warlord there's only one thing left to do... get drunk!  But not before everyone else of course.

At the start of the game each player has their own deck of cards (different for each character to reflect their various classes and races), ten gold pieces, a Fortitude of 20, and an Alcohol Content of 0.  In addition to this there is a communal drink deck which gets passed out (and "drunk") as the game goes along.  Using your cards (and the drinks of course) the players are trying to make their opponents pass out by making their Fortitude equal to or less than their Alcohol Content.  As an added twist you can also knock out another player by making them loose all their money gambling (the only thing worse than a drunk is a drunk with no money).  The mechanics are very straight forward and the flavor text and artwork are hilarious.

Currently there are three different versions of this game available and they can all be played together for a massive twelve player game if you wanted to.  Don't know if I'd recommend it as the potential down time between turns would be a little much but it's possible if you're crazy enough to try!  Personally I think the sweet spot for this game is four players but I've never tried it with two.  I imagine that would make for one fast and furious drinking game!

It should be noted that all three versions are not the same.  The third iterration includes some additional mechanics for each character which makes them play somewhat differently than characters from the first two sets.  Nothing too complicated but it does change the game and we have wondered if they might not be very balanced against the other sets.  I don't think it would really boil down to a massive advantage but its definitely worth pointing out.

Overall these are really fun games and I can't recommend them enough.  Interested in picking it up?  Well then give your FLGS a call or hit our Amazon link at the top of the page.

That's about it for this time but I've got more in the works, including that Halloween Fear and Faith session.  Might be a Thanksgiving game at this rate but it really is coming soon along with some other goodies.  Until next time...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Mini Review for a Mini Game

I promise, I'm not repeatedly dying and rerolling, I just totally space on writing here, hence the nickname I suppose. Anyways, I am pretty tired at the moment but I had to get in here and post real quick before i forget. If you haven't already, go check out Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter on Facebook. That's right, I am violently opposed to Facebook time-waster games, but this one stands out, and does a great job selling a simplified D&D flavor to newbies, brand new players, and veterans alike. You can choose from prebuilt characters or customize one, complete with stat point assignment, then take your character on adventures with the hired help of your friend's heroes. Each adventure is comprised of a bunch of mini-encounters, including combat, traps, and of course, good ol' slow D&D levelling. After three beginner adventures, I hit level 2 and am 100 points in to the 2500 I need to reach level 3. There's a neat random loot system, an intuitive user interface for spells and abilities that appear from characters and targets as radial menus, and it's all turn-based, based on initiative scores. The maps are cutely detailed grids, and the sprite graphics are nice and moderately custom. All in all, it's worth at least a quick peek.

Hope y'all have as much fun as I have!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wait... It's happening NEXT weekend?

There are gaming conventions all around the world.  Some are big, some are small, but all of them have one thing in common; a need for organization.  A few years ago Las Vegas had the distinction of getting its very own "big" gaming convention called Neoncon.  Last year, they even hosted the Iron GM event and I was really excited when I heard that they would have the Iron GM again this year.  I subscribed to their site and eagerly waited to find out more.

Time went by and very little information appeared so I set a message to one of the event organizers asking specifically about the Iron GM event.  If I could make it to the whole con I really wanted to make sure I at least made it to this.

More time passed.

Now the con is one mere week away and instead of being giddy with anticipation, I was mildly surprised to hear that it was happening so soon.  The Neoncon website still says to pardon their dust and that the site will be tested and ready to go by August 24th.

Is this really a way to host a con?  Maybe a local event, but for one that (as I understood it at least) was trying to become one of the bigger gaming events this is an utter fail in my book.  Too bad as I had been really excited to get back to a gaming convention as its been years.  Ah well, maybe their site will be ready for next year...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Opening Up With The Beginning Of The Path

It turns out that this video has been up for a week or so but I definitely wanted to share it in case anyone missed it.  This is the unboxing of the new Pathfinder Beginner Box by the folks over at Paizo Publishing.  So without further ado, let's check it out!

Personally I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this one. I will admit that I have some concern about the stand up pieces instead of the counters that you find in most of the 4e products nowadays but they look like they are extremely durable so I'm more than happy to give them a try. It also sounds like you get a good amount of other things in the set as well. In particular I was surprised at just how many monsters they stat up in this Beginner set. Almost 100 monsters is a pretty impressive number and shows that this set has a lot of potential for replay and customization.

This is one that I'm definitely looking at picking up soon so I'll post more about it once I actually have it in hand.  Plus if you're interested in getting this yourself and haven't done so yet there's good new!  Just click on the Amazon link at the top of the page and it will take you right there so you can get your own copy.  Until next time...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More On The Pre-painted Paizo Goodness!

Way back in August I posted about the soon to be released pre-painted miniatures that are being produced by Wiz Kids for the Pathfinder RPG.  (Here's a link in case ya missed it.)  With the release now lurking on the horizon, Paizo has released pictures of the actual production run of the hero miniatures from the Beginner Box.

As you can see these minis are really nice looking for pre-paints especially since these are actual production miniatures.  Are they Golden Demon winner quality?  No, but considering you get all four of them for about $13 they are really nice.

As for the rest of the line they are going to be blind box purchase which normally I'm dead against but in this case they really have me interested.  The price isn't too bad for what you get and it sounds like there is a good mix of minis within one case so you probably won't wind up with too many repeats of the more powerful monsters.  This does mean that getting the more common beasties will be a little tricky but Paizo has mentioned doing encounter packs in the future that won't be blind box so it shouldn't be too hard to fill out the ranks of cannon fodder.

 Ya just gotta love the Pathfinder goblins!

Personally I'm definitely looking forward to getting some of these once they come out.  Who knows, maybe I'll really luck out and Santa will throw me a brick of them for Christmas!  All I can do is hope he doesn't aim for my head.  Until next time...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Preparing For The Scaring

A few posts back I mentioned that I have been preparing a one shot Call Of C'thulhu adventure for my gaming group so I figure its time to take a look at just what I'm talking about.  The adventure that we are going to play is actually one of the most played adventures for CoC ever written (makes sense since it has been their introductory investigation for years).  Only seems fitting since no one in my group has ever played the game, not to mention you have to figure they would have the bugs worked out of the adventure by now.

In the book they give you a basic layout of the story (including plot hooks for further investigations if your players want to pursue them) but a lot of it is left open so that you can give the adventure your own personal touch if you want.  To do this I decided to focus on a few things so that I could add a little flavor to the game and also make it easier for my players to get into the swing of things.  The first thing I did was take a look at the location.

The investigation is set in Boston, Massachusetts in the year 1920 and I decided to stick with this.  The game can easily be changed to other time periods but I like the idea of using the twenties.  Technology was definitely on the rise but no where near as advanced as the present day.  As for the location I really like the idea of this all happening near Arkham since it is the heart of Lovecraft country and Boston does have a rich history to draw form as well.  A few quick Google searches were enough to not only help me find some of the key locations but also give me a basic idea what the city was like then.

Another point in favor of setting it near Arkham was the fact that most of us had played Arkham Horror recently.  This made coming up with the mostly pre-generated characters a snap as I based most of them off of characters that we'd used in that game.  This gave me a loose background for each of them that I was able to work into a back story so the investigators actually had a reason to be together.  With it being a one shot the last thing I wanted to deal with was trying to get everyone out of the tavern and into the adventure.

You may have noticed that I said the characters were mostly pre-generated.  In Call of C'thulhu your character has occupational skill points that are assigned to specific skills and personal skill points that can be used for anything.  To give the players some freedom to add a personal flair to their character I left most of the personal skill points unassigned so that the players can add their own personal touch without having to go through the whole process of building the character from scratch.

I also took their character sheets one step further by making them into small files about the different characters.  In addition to their character sheet I included a one page bio about each investigator complete with picture.  This was all put into individual manila envelopes that were labeled with the character's name and occupation.  Since they are based on the Arkham Horror investigators, I was also able to get some pre-painted minis for all for of the characters as well.

When it comes time to play I'm going to lay out the four envelopes on the table with their respective minis, let the players choose which one they want to be, then crack open the envelopes to see just who they are playing.  All of this was very easy to do and I'm excited to see just how the group reacts to it.

This particular investigation also makes reference to some newspaper articles that the players might stumble upon that could give them clues about just what they are dealing with.  Unfortunately there isn't an actual handout for these bits of information but after a few minutes on Word I was able to whip up my own articles instead.  Admittedly I could have just verbally given them the information but I really like the idea of being able to actually hand them to the players.

With all of these bits of prep done, the only thing left is find a time when we can get the group together for a game.  Not exactly sure when that will be but I'll definitely be doing a write up for it so expect more on this in the not too distant future.  Until next time...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Me be Vorka and you be dinner!

The goblin goodness continues!  With the party finished, its time to take a look at the critters those lucky goblins will get to meet on their quest for fireworks!  First off is Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many.  Bet you can't guess what she is!

Lotslegs Eat Goblin Babies Many

Technically Lotslegs is only a giant spider so this figure really is too big but I like the idea of at least making the spider visually scary and what better way than making it frickin' huge?  Unlike most of the other minis, this one is not from Reaper Miniatures though they do have a very good selection of spiders to choose from if you're looking for them.  Instead I decided to use a spider from my Descent game as it seems appropriately creepy, not to mention the fact that I already own it (always a plus in my opinion).

Next we have Scabtongue, Tickletooth, and Cuddles.  Don't they sound lovable?

Scabtongue, Tickletooth, and Cuddles

According to the scenario these three are a group of vicious dogs.  Reaper does have some pretty sweet looking figures for war dogs but I decided to go with the slightly more fantasy generic wolf pack.  With wolves and goblins almost going hand in hand for most fantasy worlds it just seemed more versatile.  I don't know how often I would have players encounter guard dogs but wolves?  I'm just wondering if three is enough....
Finally there is the crazy cannibal herself, Vorka, and her pet frog, Lord Longtung.

Vorka the cannibal and Lord Longtung

Vorka is yet another mini from the goblin pyro pack.  This is another one that could be easily modified so that it has a more human looking hat but I decided that the goblin "helmet" would work for her in this case.  To differentiate between the PCs and Vorka I painted her clothes grey plus she has a pretty distinctive pose which is always a plus.

For Lord Longtung I actually went to another Fantasy Flight Game and pulled out one of the frogs from the Talisman Revised 4th Edition game.  Again this was a case of convenience for me but if you don't have this and are looking for giant frog minis I'd recommend hitting Reaper for them first.

And there we have it!  Well, almost anyway.  There is one mini left for the adventure but when my daughter saw that I was prepping a horse she asked if she could paint it.  Haven't had a chance to sit down with her to get it done but I plan on doing it soon and then we can have the big reveal for the final critter in the game, Stomp.

With all of these now finished I just have to wrangle the group together for a game.  Hopefully that will be in the next couple of weeks and I'll be sure to pass on the word of just how successful this "merry" band of goblins makes out.  Until next time...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

He be Mogmurch! Chuffy be me!

The goblin goodness continues as I have more minis painted!  Here's the rest of the party...

Chuffy the rogue and Mogmurch the alchemist

As I mentioned before I'm trying to use the paint schemes to make the different characters really pop though I must admit that I really didn't do anything special for Chuffy.  He has the wonderful goblin feat pustular which means he has a serious case of teenage acne.  I was going to paint his face so that it looked pretty nasty but I like how he turned out so I'm just going with the generic goblin look.  The only other one that is close to being so generic is Poog but he is easy to pick out as he has the spear.

Mogmurch is a different story.  He has a skull face mask so I went with skull face paint for a quick and easy solution.  Of course he's also supposed to have a club instead of a sword but I think that the face paint is enough to make him stand out.

With the party done, now its time to get to the various NPC critters but more on them later.  Until next time...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Me be Reta! He be Poog!

Well, things have been a little quiet around here, at least on the blog anyway.  I've been working on a few different projects lately including the We Be Goblins game that I mentioned last week.  So for painting for that is coming along very well.  Why here are two of the little knee biters now!

Reta the fighter and Poog the cleric

For the We Be Goblins characters I wanted to try to stay as true to the characters as possible without having to do a lot of modding so I decided to focus on different paint schemes instead.  Reta for example is supposed to be wearing a wedding veil and a halfling ladies' corset.  To keep it simple I picked out one of the goblins wearing a headpiece (complete with feathers even!) and armor that almost looked a little like a dress then I painted it white-ish.  Poog on the other hand is the only goblin wearing a chain mail shirt and carries a javelin so I used on of the spear wielding goblins for him and painted his chest armor like it was made of metal.  I've still got more to do but so far I'm really happy with how they are turning out so far.

In addition to painting up these little suckers, I've also been prepping a special Halloween game of Call of C'thulhu!  No one in my group is very familiar with this game so I decided to go with the pre-gen character route.  This will let us sit down and get right into the game plus it gives me a chance to get creative with the scenario prep work.  In addition to making some handouts for the game I'm also making up some character files for the different pre-gen characters and I've also managed to get my hands on some minis for the game as well!  Of course all of this isn't necessary but I happen to love Halloween and if I'm going to do a one-shot for it I want to make sure I do it right.

But wait, that's not all!  If you call now you can also get... oh wait... sorry.  Got carried away with myself though there actually is more.  I'm also putting together a Halloween Fear and Faith battle report plus there is still more to come for the Mutants and Death Ray Guns mini campaign.  Lots of stuff in the works so I'm off to do more work.  Until next time...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We Be Here!

Earlier this year Paizo released the We Be Goblins module for Free RPG Day.  I loved the look of it so I made sure to download a copy as soon as it went live on their webstore and unfortunately there it has sat since then.  I've skimmed through the adventure and I really want to run it but the timing has just never seemed to line up with my group.  We went into a strictly boardgame phase for a while plus  there were scheduling issues for part of the time...  Ah, the joys of herding cats!  (Actually our group isn't anywhere near that bad but its fun to say...)

Recently we started to swing back around to getting RPGs back to the table so I've been looking around for quick things as additional options.  SpacerGal and I both has Pathfinder campaigns in the works and I've got a good portion of the arc for my Gamma World game plotted out and ready to go.  Even so I wanted to have a few things that we could throw on the table for one shots so I dug into my hard drive and pulled out We Be Goblins again.

For those of you that might not have heard about it this is a first level goblin adventure.  That's right, to heck with being paragons of virtue, the characters in this game are a bunch of vicious little green bastards... well, except the one in the wedding dress.  And no I'm not kidding.  For this adventure I decided to pull out all the stops so it was off to the Warstore I went looking for minis.  Here's a quick look at what I picked up....

Two packs of Pathfinder goblins and a pack of wolves by Reaper Miniatures (also in the pic are a couple of adventurers for SpacerGal's Pathfinder game).  Add to this a spider from Descent and a really old horse miniature from Games Workshop and you've got yourself an adventure!  Now I just need to get them primed and painted but that will have to wait until next time...