Saturday, January 29, 2011

Random Updates: The Black Plague Ain't Got Nothing On Us!

Hey everyone,

In case you hadn't guessed from the title, the update that I'd planned is going to be delayed a little bit. Cold/flu/seasonable creeping crud is working its way through the household so I haven't been able to get anything done lately except for some painting. Definitely still a good thing in its own way but not quite what I'd planned.

So far I've managed to paint most of a 15mm sci-fi platoon...

...finish one of my genestealer cult conversions and start three others...

...and re-paint three Star Wars minis...

...along with re-basing a bunch of Heroscape minis.

Oh yeah, and also a summoning circle terrain piece.

Still need to do some basing and a few details but I'm really happy with how they are looking so far. So what are all these things for? Is there some vast evil plan that I have brewing in the back of my mind, preparing to unleash it on an unsuspecting world? Nah, just saw the stuff and felt like doing some hobby though I do have an itch for some sci-fi mini games right now. Still trying to decide what to do about it but I'll be sure to share once I figure it out.

Anyway, that's all for now but be sure to come back for you weekly dose of motivation on Monday and more Audio Noise next week. Until next time...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Playing The Roles: Gamma World

Hey everyone and welcome to a constructive installment of the Dispatch!

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently picked up the new Gamma World boxed set. Since then, I've gotten some players together, we've rolled up some characters, and we're all set to start exploring Gamma Terra! But its a big world out there so just where should you begin?

Making Realty A Reality
World Building For Gamma World

As I mentioned before, the boxed set does come complete with an adventure so you really can just crack open the box and dive right in. I considered doing this but as my group of players had been looking to be two people at the time (its since grown to four) and that adventure is designed for five players, I decided that I should really look elsewhere for inspiration for now. Looking at the upcoming releases (and remembering something about the original releases from all those years ago) it looks like the campaign boxed sets are going to be centered around the northern midwest of the United States. Famine In Fargo was set in and around Fargo, ND and the Legion of Gold took place on the shores of one of the Great Lakes. Admittedly they might be headed in a completely different direction this time but it seemed like a safe bet so I decided to run with it.

Since Famine In Fargo is the next release, I decided to look at opening the campaign in North Dakota but the question was where? It was when I was flipping through the rulebook that inspiration struck. One of the creatures in the is serf or thought master. These are domineering little bastards that want to have their own little kingdom to rule over which struck a chord with me. Instant villain! Well, after a fashion at least. In my mind Gamma World is a place of greys so having someone like this in charge just makes him a little darker than your average Joe.

Reading on, it says that serfs gather badders, hoops, and porkers around it as followers and try to establish a stronghold of its own. So what is the modern day equivalent of a stronghold? Military base came to mind first but a quick Goggle search didn't turn up anything of note. Then I thought prisons! These are designed to keep people in and out, would have a large number of "barracks" available, and as luck would have it there was one right in Bismarck, ND! Perfect! Now what else was in Bismarck?

For this, I opened up Mapquest and looked for places and attractions of note. Universities, malls, hospitals, etc. Within no time, I was able to find not one but two good sized malls, three different colleges, zoo, the state capital building, and the municipal airport. Zoom in somewhat, copy the image, touch it up a little and bam! Instant players handout and a second one for my own reference as well.

Next, I went over the locations that I picked out and fleshed them out with some details. The Gateway Mall became the town of Gateway (isn't that where everyone usually hides out in the post apocalypse movies?), the State Capital Building became the Noh Dakta Complex, the Kirkland Mall became the Kirlad Bazaar, and so on. This gave me the key parts of my setting, so now I just had to figure out how they relate to one another but more on that next time.

The Parting Shot...

Another short and sweet one for Gamma World but I don't want to give away too much about my overall story as I have some other ideas percolating right now but I want to get the game moving forward before I show too much of my hand. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them here on the blog or you can also email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus, still on Facebook and all that stuff, so go there and like it! Until next time...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And Through The Woods To The Other Path Over Yonder...

Hello everyone and welcome to a slightly gear grinding installment of the Dispatch!

This week we are going to continue our look at Fear and Faith by Ganesha Games but with a slight twist. In the last installment, we set up the scenario with a little bit of flavor text and picked out the miniatures that were going to be used. Since then I crunched some numbers and put together some stats for Fear and Faith so I could give them a run-through to make sure that it was balanced in both numbers and game play. Unfortunately things didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped and some changes were in order. Just what am I talking about? Read on to find out!

All Alone In The Woods: Stating Up, Trying Out, And Then Completely Changing
A Slightly Modified Fear And Faith Battle Report

Originally I'd planned on digging a little deeper into the custom system used by the Song of Blades games to show just how I put together the various stat lines for this scenario. They came together quickly enough so I tried a few test runs with them to make sure that they would be balanced against each other in application as well as value. Turns out there were a few problems.

The biggest one is also one of the key flavor aspects of the scenario, none other than werewolf special rule and its nemesis, silver weapon. As it stands out of the book, werewolves are somewhat indestructible. Due to their supernatural origins, the only way to kill a werewolf is to use a silver weapon. Use anything else and you can pretty much just forget about it. The problem is that when you do use a silver weapon, you are almost guaranteed to kill it dead as silver is lethal to them. The real problem with this in my opinion is that there is no middle ground. Either they are bad ass and they rip you apart or look at them and they fall over dead. Doesn't make for a very exciting game now does it?

In an attempt to find a way around this problem, I went in a different direction and took a look at the ShadowSea ruleset. For those that aren't familiar with it, ShadowSea has been likened to a more advanced version of Song of Blades by the author of the original so I decided to pick it up and I was not disappointed.

Among the changes in ShadowSea are more detailed rules for interacting with the gaming environment, a more in depth magic system, and a full campaign setting for starters. After checking out some of the changes to the basic rules (such as charging into combat for a bonus), I flipped to the special abilities section to see what exactly they had in store. All and all, the list not only seemed more extensive but also more detailed in some ways. Skimming through the list I was able to pick out several different abilities that looked like they would be much more fitting for the scenario that I want to run so I grabbed a pen and got to work building my forces.

So how exactly did things turn out? Right now I'm still fine tuning things but things have been much closer in the test games that I've tried so I'm looking forward to doing more with the ShadowSea rules. As for the battle report, you'll have to come back for the next installment of the Dispatch as Brother Lucius and his band try to stop the vile wolfkin led by their bloodmage! Will they stop the evil plan of the bloodmage? Can the save the girl from a horrible fate? You'll just have to come back to find out!

The Parting Shot...

That wraps up another Dispatch but there is still some more to come as we wrap things up with a slightly modified Fear and Faith battle report! Will Brother Lucius and his followers be able to save the girl? Just what did the foul werewolves have in store for the child? All will become clear soon enough. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com plus you can like the blog on Facebook now too! Just click on the like button to the right. Go on. Do it. You know you want to. Until next time...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Degrees To Motivational Duplication!

Hey everyone!

While reading comments on another blog that I follow (Minions of the Monster Master), I stumbled on a link to another blog (My Dice Hate Me) which had a segment that I really liked, Motivational Monday. So much so that I decided to start doing my own here on the Dispatch but I gotta give credit where it's due. My Dice Hate Me was the inspiration for this one so take a second to get over there and check it out. Mainly focused on 40k and Warhammer Fanstasy, he also has some Warmachine thrown in there to boot. Good stuff all around IMO.

And now it's time to get motivated!

I choose this one due to my latest foray into the wonderful world of GMing! It's been stupid long since I played an RPG and to get back into I decided to start out running a game. It's gonna be interesting, let me tell ya!

There is more coming soon so be sure to check back here and also check out My Dice Hate Me as well. Until next time...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Over The River...

Hey everyone and welcome to a faithful installment of the Dispatch!

We are going to continue our look at Fear and Faith that we started last week as we throw in a twist to the setting and see what we can come up with. This will be a long one so hang on as we test your faith!

All Alone In The Woods: Setting The Story And Finding The Minis
A Fear And Faith Battle Report

The first disappearances had happened months earlier. It was only small animals at first. A chicken, a small pig. While annoying, it was really nothing of much consequence and the villagers wrote it off as a fox or something similar. An annoyance, to be sure, but nothing too dangerous.

Then things started to change.

A sheep disappeared, then two more a few nights later. The hunters of the village went out searching for the culprit but found nothing. Nothing happened for a few days and they thought that their search must have scared whatever it was off. Things returned to normal in the sleepy town.

Then they found the cow.

Unlike the other animals that had disappeared without a trace, the carcass of the cow was in the middle of it field. The body had been torn apart, as if by some giant animal, and most of the meat was stripped from the bone.

Suddenly the surrounding woods became something threatening, full of dark and foreboding shadows and shapes. A messenger was sent to the nearest town to ask for help but his body was found a half mile out of the village torn apart just as the cow had been.

Terror gripped the town. No one ventured out alone and never after dark. Things could be heard in the distant woods at night but there was no way to get a message out to ask for help.

The night that the girl disappeared, all that changed. The things smashed into one of the houses in the middle of the night and made off with her. Beside himself with fear for his daughter's safety, the father set out on horseback for the nearest town to plead for help.

As his horse rode through the night, he could feel the things around him, pacing him, waiting to strike out at him when he faltered but his horse pounded on through the night. The things seemed to disappear but that only strengthen his resolve to find help to save his daughter.

* * * * * * *

In my opinion, the general flavor of Fear and Faith seems to be geared toward more modern times. Survivors of the zombie apocalypse, investigating the C'Thulhu mythos, or even (dare I say it...) the fight between the werewolves and vampires in Twilight. There is definitely nothing wrong with this (well, except the Twilight thing but that's self explanatory...) but I am lacking miniatures for these genres. Sci-fi... check. Fantasy... check. Modern horror... hmmm. Not so much in that department it would seem. I had resigned myself to the fact that I might not be able to get this one to the table for a while (at least not without proxies anyway) when it dawned on me that Claustrophobia is all about a demon hunter and his soldiers fighting against the demons of Hell. And it has miniatures even!

I had the makings of a ready made scenario right there but I wanted to look at my other options as well. There are zombies, vampires, ghosts... and oh yes, werewolves. It was time to dig out the Confrontation minis again.

* * * * * * *

Brother Lucius was knelt in prayer when the man barged into the church. A look of relief flashed across the man's tormented face when he saw the Redeemer and he quickly stumbled forward, begging for Lucius' help. The Father of the church tried to quiet the man, but Lucius motioned the Father away, stepped forward, and listened to the man's words.

It quickly became apparent to Lucius that there was something far more sinister at work in the woods and Brother Lucius left the man in the church as he went to gather his men.

The evil that lurked within that forest would be torment the village no more.

* * * * * * *

For the other side of the equation, I decided that I would use some modified Wolfen miniatures for my werewolves. In case you hadn't guessed, I love these miniatures and this looked like another great opportunity to get them onto the table.

Of the Wolfen minis out there, the hunter miniatures are actually some of the easiest to convert as they are equipped with spears. A couple of quick cut and BAM! Instant werewolf!

Once this is done it's time to get to the painting! A quick coat of primer and then its time to hit them with the paint. I know that most movie werewolves are brown but I like the idea of them in greys and blacks as it looks more like a wolf. Were... wolf. See? It all makes sense...

Now we have the heroes of this tale (Brother Lucius and his condemned minions seeking their redemption) and the villains (the ferocious werewolves looking for lunch), it is time to stat them up and then get them to the table. But more on that next time...

The Parting Shot...

That's all for now but be sure to come back for the next part of our look at Fear and Faith as we stat up the two sides and get them ready for the battle. Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus you can now follow the Dispatch on Facebook by clicking on the like button to the right. Until next time...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Busting Out Of The Box: Taking A Look At Gamma World 4e

Hello everyone and welcome to an opening edition of the Dispatch!

For this one we are going in a totally new direction as we bust open the box on a recent purchase I made. Hang on tight because things are about to get a little random!

Mutant Bastards Galore!
Unboxing the Gamma World RPG


Long, long ago in a state about three thousand miles away, I borrowed an RPG rulebook from a friend of my brother. The whole thing was crazy and bizarre with radiation and mutations everywhere! What game was it? A first edition copy of Gamma World by TSR Hobbies. I never did run or play a game of it but it always struck me as kind of cool in a very Flash Gordon kind of way.

Flash forward to the present.

It's been years since I've done any role playing but its something that I really want to get back to and I've finally found some people to not only game with but also do some RP as well! The big difference is that this time I decided that I'm not just going to play but also try my hand at running some games as well. The real question is what would I run?

One of the great things about listening to a ton of actual play sessions like I do is its almost like have a demo of a game. You can really get a feel for how a game works mechanically very quickly. Does it bog down in combat or flow nicely? Are the challenges in the game smooth or cumbersome?

Originally I was looking at bringing 3:16 Carnage Amongst The Stars to the table just because of how smooth the system seems (very straight forward mechanics and nicely interactive RP elements) when I heard about Dungeons and Dragons Gamma World. I was really intrigued at this idea though when I heard about the collectible card aspect of the game I was pretty disappointed. I had planned to just completely pass on the game until I listened to some actual plays that made me change my mind.

Basically it seems like the new Gamma World is a streamlined version of the 4e ruleset. Reduce the total number of skills, speed up the combat, and the system really seems to run much more smoothly then Dungeons and Dragons 4e.

Don't get me wrong. I am not one of the myriad of 4e haters out there. Personally, I have heard enough good games of 4e to recognize the fact that it is not a bad system if it is run correctly. One of the main problems that I've noticed in listening to games is the fact that it can get overly crunchy and really bog down at higher levels as you have to break out the accounting paper to keep track of the hundreds of hit points that are being dealt with.

The new Gamma World avoids that problem by putting its lethal nature on the table right away. With virtually no healing available in this post apocalyptic setting, if you get shot with a gun a couple of times then you're going to wind up dead, no two ways about it.

Another common complaint is that it is not a role playing game but a roll playing game. While it's true that combat is where the 4e mechanics really excel, I still think that there are possibilities for role playing that you can explore if you look for them. Of course I might wind up eating crow soon as I plan on running this game later this month for my friends but only time will tell for sure. Until then, let's take a quick look at just what you get in the box.

Rulebook: One digest sized rulebook with full color throughout. Nice looking and the layout isn't bad either but it can be a little hard to find things sometimes. For example, some of the critters listed in the book have special movement rules but those are not described in the movement section. Instead, those are detailed at the beginning of the creature section.

Counters: 96 counters to represent the players and monsters plus another 12 oversized counters for large monsters. These are really well done and are comparable to the quality you'd find in most of the better boardgames out there.

Alpha mutation and Omega tech cards: 80 cards representing various random mutations and technology that you'll find as you explore Gamma Terra. In stark contrast to the counters these cards are what I'd expect to find in your run of the mill mass market boardgame. I would definitely recommend getting some card protectors these as you'll be shuffling them fairly regularly.

One booster pack of cards: One pack of eight new alpha and omega cards. Yeah, this is the collectible part. There are a total of 120 new cards in this set and while you don't need to collect them at all, they can add a little something to the game. Personally I'm not sure how I feel out these. Given the lack luster quality of the cards and the very steep price of the boosters, I think I might pass on these for now.

Poster maps: Two double sided maps of various locations from the beginning adventure. These are fairly typical poster maps but the artwork is pretty nice on them.

Eight character sheets: Four pages with a character sheet on each side. Now calling these "character sheets" is actually pretty generous. These basically summarize each step in character creation and give you a small space to put in the information from that step. There are much better sheets out there on the web but these are at least a starting point if you really have to get to the table without taking a few minutes to do a quick search on the net for something better.

And that's it! All and all, not too bad for the price though the vastly varying quality of some of the components is kind of odd. Full color glossy rulebook, very nicely finished counters, low quality cards, and bare minimum character sheets. Maybe they were trying a little too hard to capture the completely random nature of the game with this bit of game design. Note to Wizards; quality throughout is not a bad thing!

As I mentioned, I'm hoping to get this one to the table later this month so I'll be sure to do a follow up once we have actually gotten in some game time. The game does come with a full beginning adventure but its designed for five characters which is more than I'm looking at having right now so I've got some stuff I'm working on of my own creation. But more on that later...

The Parting Shot...

And that's the new Gamma World in a nutshell! It will definitely be interesting to not only get this game to the table but just get back into roleplaying at all. I can see fun and exciting things in the future... mwah ha ha ha ha!!! As always, if you have any comments, complaints, questions, you can either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. And I'm on Facebook as well (just like 90% of the population...) so click the link and like the Dispatch! Do it. Do it now!!! Until next time...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Taking That Leap Of Faith

Hey everyone and welcome to a righteous installment of the Dispatch!

For this one, we are going to be taking a look at another game by Ganesha Games as we get medieval on some monsters. So close your eyes and trust in your virtue as we come face to face with Fear and Faith!

The Hunters And The Hunted
A Review of Fear And Faith by Ganesha Games

As you might recall, I found out about the Song of Blades and Heroes miniature game just a few months ago. I gave it a try and I must say that there is an awful lot to like about the system. Not only is it very simple and quick to play, it is also generic and has a system to stat up any miniatures that you might have on hand.

One of the other remarkable things about this system is just how adaptable it it. Currently there are eight different settings that use the Song of Blades ruleset at their core with more on the way, not to mention a number of supplements to those core books. Ranging from fantasy to sci-fi and Napoleonic to Quar, there are rules out there for almost any kind of setting you might have in mind including horror.

Fear and Faith uses the basic mechanics of the Song of Blades system with a few alterations and additions. Players now have access to many abilities to represent various tropes that are common to the whole horror genre. Want to make a horde of ravening zombies? You can do that! Crazy slasher maniac? Yep, that's there too. Great C'thulhu? Hey, if you have the mini then you can play it!

Even with this extensive range of abilities, the game still is able to keep it's very streamlined mechanics intact with only a few additions. In addition to the basic rules for activations and such, the rules have pulled some of the simpler mechanics from their other games to include a more detailed ranged combat system. Who needs a bow when you can use a shotgun? They have also added a few completely new rules that are integral to the genre. After all, you can't do horror without a little fear which they cover here along with insanity for those of a Lovecraftian bent.

All and all, Fear and Faith looks to be another great addition to anyone's miniature wargame library. With easy to understand and very adaptable rules, the only major limit to what you can do with this game is your own creativity. When you combine all of this with a very reasonable price point (a mere $8 here in the States) and I really can't think of any reason not to pick up this game.

The Parting Shot...

That wraps up another one but expect more on Fear and Faith over the next few weeks including a battle report! Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus you can now follow the Dispatch on Facebook by clicking on the like button to the right. Until next time...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Audio Noise: When MMOs And Reality Collide

Hello everyone and welcome to a fully visualized Audio Noise!

Yes, that's right! We're starting off the New Year with a visual explosion of gamer geek drama. What gut wrenching expose could I be talking about? Why none other than...

Focus: Follows the exploits of an online gamer guild that is forced to meet face to face. Online stalking has never been so funny...
Audio/Visual Quality: four out of five guildees
Content Quality: five Orbs of Ner
Average Length: About five minutes per episode
Language: Squeaky clean for your protection.

The Guild is a web series about a group of MMORPG players that live near each other and have been gaming together for almost a year but they have never come face to face (never mind dealing with actual people outside of the game). Well, at least not until one of the guild members develops a slightly obsessive crush on another guild mate and decides that they are meant to be together. That's the opening to the first season and the craziness just runs on from there. I don't want to say much more because I hate spoilers but basically if you enjoyed movies like Scott Pilgrim and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising then you should definitely check out The Guild. A funny little web series that is just too good to miss!

The Parting Shot

Yeah, it's a short one this time but that's just so you can stop reading this and check out The Guild. Come on people, an episode is only five minutes. Oh, yeah, and thanks for checking out the blog! If you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Plus you can now follow the Dispatch on Facebook by clicking on the like button to the right. Now go check it out! Until next time...