Sunday, September 24, 2017

D&D Epic Adventure

Picture from organisers' FB page
[Spoilers Alert for The Mystery of Kryptgarden]

That's a picture of my table at the D&D Epic Adventure I attended yesterday. The premise of the event is that five different factions have decided to launch a multi-pronged attack on the stronghold of an evil cult. Members of the various factions gather at the great hall, are organised into teams, and then sent out on their separate missions - how each team fared would have an impact on the other teams in the final battle of the game.

After some initial awkwardness (to be expected when playing with total strangers - although three of the other players actually game together regularly), our team found its footing: the fighter and my paladin tanked, the rogue sneaked and stabbed, and the druid and warlock provided the firepower.

With each successful encounter our confidence and teamwork improved, so much so that we finished our first two acts early and had time for an extended lunch break while the other tables tried to complete theirs.

Over lunch (and bonding over 80s cartoons and RPGs) I found that that the three players actually game with Dave from my regular Monday group, and that one of them was the brother of a friend from my secondary school!

After lunch we played the second two acts of the game. The final battle was suitably epic: while our group set off to take out a ballista situated on a tower connected to other towers by rope bridges, a battle raged in the courtyard of the castle - the ballista rained projectiles onto the good guys: every round matters! When our initial plan of utilising stealth failed, we winged it and attacked both along the rope bridges and on the ground, the fighter and my paladin drawing missile fire while the other dashed from cover to cover to close within spell range to destroy the ballista.

The game was great fun, but what also made the day rewarding was chatting with gamers both close to my age, and also younger.

The older gamers marveled at how mainstream the hobby had become: back in the 80s when we started playing such a big public event was unimaginable. They told horror stories of having to play with GMs who enjoyed tormenting players at the few gaming stores there were back then, because that was the only way they could find a GM.

The youngest player at the table was a new GM, and is running a homebrewed campaign instead of one of the many adventure paths he could easily buy off the shelf; we old grognards were suitable impressed.

I enjoyed the experience enough to want to attend the next time something like this is organised. Of course, it will also give me a chance to try out the new powers my paladin gained from leveling up after the game...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blood Bowl Games 5 and 6


After a planned game of Federation Commander fail to materialise on Sunday, fg and I had to think of a game to play in the afternoon. We were both too lazy to set up a full miniatures game, and too lazy to learn a new boardgame, so we defaulted to Blood Bowl.

We managed to find our team rosters from some 20 months ago, and continued the series where we left off. The great thing about Blood Bowl is that the game can picked up at any point if the records are kept; this applies to both a campaign, as well as each individual game. It's a like a chess game, in a way.

It took us only a couple of turns to remember how the game goes, and we managed to play two games (well, sort of...) in one afternoon.

The first half of Game 5 was a scoreless one as my Chaos Dwarves failed to reach the end zone in time. In the second half fg's Orcs managed an easy touchdown in six turns, but a long pass followed by a Sure-footed, Sprinty bull centaur allowed me to draw the game.


Game 6 went really bad for me. A series of casualties left my team unable to put up a reasonable defence, or defend themselves for that matter. At the end of the first half I was down by two points (one score after an interception!) and had only seven players standing. I decided to concede the game.

The Orcs win the series.

With this series concluded, we are thinking of our next teams. Fg is thinking of a Skaven team, while I am looking for something better at passing... like a Wood Elf team, but less... elfy. I will probably end up using the Wood Elf stats, but again I will proxy with some other figures.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Trio of Heroes for a Lone Wolf Campaign



Despite a lack of posting this month, I have in fact been doing a quite a bit of gaming. We concluded our Space Opera campaign (I plan to write a series of articles on the lessons I learned from GMing the campaign, when I can find the time), and I have been reading, making purchases, and painting in preparation for our next RPG campaign.

The setting of the next campaign will be Magnamund, the Lone Wolf world, using Cubicle 7's Lone Wolf Adventure Game rules. The combat rules in this system are a little different from other fantasy RPG rules, as the authors wanted to stick to system in the original gamebooks. This meant that only the players roll during combat, and damage to combatants are decided by referring to a combat result table. As the original gamebooks were solo adventures, this meant some tweaking was required in a multi-player RPG. I think the solution they came up with is reasonable, and I plan to run a combat during our Session 0 to try it out. There are also combat options players can take, which spices things up a little.

I bought several figures especially for the campaign, three of which are seen in the first photo. They represent three of the player characters: a dwarven gunner of Bor, a Brotherhood of the Crystal Star mage, and a Sommlending Knight.


The knight is a Reaper mercenary warrior figure. I had a rather clear idea of what kind of armour I wanted the figure for the knight to be wearing, but as it turned out finding the exact figure to match is not an easy task. This figure was the closest I could find, but I would have preferred a heater shield to the round shield. I used a decal from a Bretonnian set.


The figure has an "adventurer" look, with a backpack, various bags, and even a scroll/map case. I imagine this is a how an adventuring knight looks like.


The figure can be rather plain besides the shield, but fortunately he wears an amulet, which serves as a way to introduce a highlight to the figure.



The second figure is a Red Box Games figure, which I am using as the mage. Again, he has the "adventurer" look. I painted him in the traditional blue of the Brotherhood, but decided not to paint all the stars that are supposed to be decorating the robe. I guess I am trying to go for a more realistic look here.


The figure carries a bedroll, which again highlight the "on the road" look.


The third figure is a Citadel dwarf thunderer figure. There are many different poses and looks in the range, but this one comes closest to what I imagined the gunners of Bor to look like. The details on the gun mechanism are amazing considering the age of these figures.


There is even a powder horn on the figure's hip, which is a nice touch.

There are two more figures to be painted before we have the whole party" a Kai Lord, and a Border Ranger of the North. These are also Red Box figures, and FG has agreed to paint them for me. They will be clothed in green - a break from the monotony of blue on these first three figures.

I have also painted a couple of NPCs, but I won't post them here yet so as not to spoil the surprise for my players.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Warhammer 40K 8th Ed game

Fg and I tried our hand at the 8th Edition of Warhammer 40K on Sunday. He drew up two lists of just below 50 Power points, which he told me was equivalent to around 1000 points in conversion. This still gave more than 70 figures on the side of the Imperial Guards, and around half that on the side of the Space Marines.

The Guard position from the Marines' point of view.

We played a Blitz scenario, which had the guards defending two defensive lines across the width of the table. This was a chance for me to lay out my sci-fi shanty town terrain, plus all the barricades, crates and oil drums we had between us. The result, as you can see, is a rather formidable position.

Ratling snipers take up position at a vantage point.

The Commissar standing at the front, inspiring the guardsmen.

The rules weren't difficult. Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill are now expressed as number needed to hit, which takes away one byte of brain function. Calculation of the "to wound" number is also made easier, and in a game where most figures on each side have the same Strength and Toughness, it became easier after a while. Calculating Saving Roll was also easy. Morale too was simple to adjudicate.

However, with more than a hundred figures on the table, and with most of the Guards figures able to shoot due to their well-prepared position, this meant more than a hundred die-rolls per turn. The game took less than three hours, but felt longer.

Assault Marines reach the defence position.
Over all the rules do seem easier that those of 7th edition, but 50 Power points does seem a bit much for beginners like us. I imagine a 750-points game to be what we should be aiming for.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Spartan Scenics Warehouse Accessories


I use battlemaps and miniatures for my RPG games, and a couple of sessions back I realised that I needed more cover for my battles. A bit of googling found the Warehouse Accessories set from Spartan Scenics. It was expensive (28 GBP) but it looked good, so I decided to get a box. After all, it can also be used for whatever sci-fi skirmish game we play, and we all know that sci-fi worlds all have random crates lying around when a firefight starts.

Thank goodness the umpire placed some crates right where I needed them.

The pieces are resin, and very well-cast. The lines and straight, the details sharp, and there is flash only at the bases of the pieces (where the "bottom" of the mould is, or the top, but you get the idea). The crates are just tall enough to give 28mm figures half-cover, There are also six biohazard containers in the set, but the yellow spray paint I used gave a very uneven coverage of the pieces, so I decided to leave them aside to be fixed another day.

I sprayed the pieces with a grey primer, and then sprayed the base colour for the pieces. The olive drab military-looking ones got some white decals I have left over from some WW2 German kit and some light weathering with black paint, while the beige, civilian-looking ones got black decals and moderate to heavy weathering with brown paint, as did the yellow pallets.

I am very pleased with the quality of these pieces, and if you are looking to give your guys some cover in your games, I recommend you pick a box up too.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

August Giveaway


I was going through my box of starships stuff looking for a model to use in my Space Opera RPG when I came across these.

They are supplements for converting Starfleet Battles ships into Starmada Admiralty Edition which I bought a long time ago but never ended up using - Starmada Compendium was the last iteration of the rules that had the Shockwave weapon which I used for my Lyrans, and in this conversion they had it as a purely defensive thing. Pathetic.

Anyway, seeing them again led me into thinking about starship battles again, and I bought the Federation Commander Reference Rulebook and a couple of Ship Card Packs for the Klingons and Lyrans... at least they are all electronic and won't take up space (heheh).

Anyway, if you want these items, do leave a comment and I will draw a recipient on 01 Aug. This is not a first-come, first-serve offer.

The offer is free: once I let you know that you have won, do let me have your email address and I will send them off to you. You don't even have to pay for postage.

Good luck!

Also, there were no entries for the July Giveaway, so I am repeating that offer again this month and making the draw on 01 Aug too.

And, will Michael Mills contact me so I can send you your prize from the June Giveaway please?

Thank you.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Federation Commander



I was digging through my box of starship stuff the other day looking for a model to use in the next session of my Space Opera RPG campaign when I found my SFB-Starmada conversion rulebooks. I bought those hoping to use them with my collection of models, but as they didn't give the Lyran ESGs the respect they deserve (relegating them to a purely defensive role), I never ended up using them. So the three books will go up in my August giveaway, which will be announced later this week.

The encounter prompted me to finally buy Federation Commander and try the rules out. I played Starfleet Battles almost 30 years ago, late to the party in a group with a few dedicated players, each of whom specialised in a race. The Lyrans were the only unclaimed race at that point in time, and as it turned out it suited my temperament, and I have been playing Lyrans (exclusively but not expertly) since, even when I started playing Starmada (Compendium edition, where their Shockwave rule sufficiently replicated the effect of the ESGs).

As anyone who has played the game will know, SFB isn't an easy game to learn or play, but back then we had the time and mental capacity to assimilate large amounts of information. I actually learned the rules by watching and playing, and never actually read the rules myself.

When Federation Commander came out several years ago I looked at the reviews, but ultimately decided to stick with Starmada Compendium (never moving on to the other editions of the Starmada franchise because they dropped the Shockwave and did not replace it with anything replicating the effect). But despite the ease of play and the ability to handle a larger number of ships, we stopped playing after a while, and once in a while I still felt the itch to allocate energy and do movement by impulse...

So I bought the Federation Commander compilation rules, a few ship card packs, and wahj and I played a game of it yesterday.

We got some of the rules wrong (as usual when playing a new set of rules), but while some aspects of the rules are vastly different from SFB, there was enough of the elements that made SFB what it is to make it familiar yet new. A game between a Heavy Cruiser and a Battlecruiser took 90 minutes. A lot of time was saved by not having to allocate all the energy in advance, but things like deciding where to move, rolling to hit and rolling for damage still took the same amount of time as it did in SFB.

I liked the rules enough to want to play again; it is also very easy to set up, which is always a plus. wahj plans to buy a few more ship packs to cover some of the other races, in particular the Romulans (who under the FC Cloaking rules look rather nerfed). As for me and my household, we will continue to play the Lyrans.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

RPG Day 2017


Yesterday I attended my first RPG Day event. I was originally scheduled to GM a Savage Worlds game in the morning, but with only two players a week away from the con date, I decided to cancel it so the players could sign up for another game.

So I spent the morning sitting at the various tables to watch the other GMs at their craft. The first 40 minutes or so were slow as many of the players were new to D&D and RPG indeed, but after that everyone got into stride and there was a nice buzz in the hall.

It was interesting to see how different GMs used different tools and styles. Some stood, others sat throughout the game. Some used markers on blank mats, some printed battlemaps, while others used "theatre of the mind".





Curiously, almost all the players looked like they were in their twenties or older. There was a teenager at my game in the afternoon, but he was perhaps the only one there. I spoke with another player over lunch and he thought maybe it was because teenagers tended to play with their schoolmates and so were not represented at what was primarily an Adventurers League event.

The game I played in was quite fun, even if my character went to 0 hit points at least twice. We had a good mix of classes and co-operated well, allowing each character his or her moment to shine (except my paladin, who simply could not hit anything!).


Still, I feel that the format of AL means that each game is essentially a one-shot with strangers. While you kept your character and his XPs and gear, there was no shared memory between members of a party, which I feel is an important part of the whole RPG experience. It is a concession to the reality that for many people, getting a regular group of players together week after week is simply not possible; I am glad I have a regular gaming group.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

July Giveaway

For the month of July, I am giving away several sprues of WW2 German infantry which I don't think I will ever get around to painting.

They are as follows:

Pegasus Hobbies German Fallschirmjaegers.

Leftover figures from Plastic Soldier Late War German Infantry

Plastic Soldier Company Self-propelled Gun Crew, and some soft plastic figures and equipment from the Pegasus Hobbies IG18 set

Once again, if you want these items, do leave a comment, and I will draw a recipient on 01 July. This is not a first-come, first-serve offer.

The offer is free: once I let you know you have been drawn, do let me have your email and mailing address and I will send them off to you. You don't even have to pay for postage; I am hoping to give these figures a good hope.

Good luck!

Added: Also, would Michael Mills contact me on this blog so I can send you last month's giveaway please? Thank you.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Have Dice, Will Travel (for RPG)


A couple of my new players in the Space Opera RPG I am currently running are also GMs on the Meetup group, and I have attended a couple of games in the past few weeks, and will be attending another one on RPG Day (17 June).

I like to use my own (Gamescience) dice, and I wanted a way to bring them around that wouldn't rattle or damage them, so I googled around and decided I wanted to make myself one of those fancy wooden RPG carrying cases that doubled as a dice tray and pencil case.

Unfortunately, the only good-looking wooden boxes at the local art store were those that came as part of water-colour or pastel sets that cost around S$70, which was more than I was prepared to spend.

Then I saw a plastic "bits" box at a general store that was about the right size (21cm x 15cm) and came with customisable partitions. I bought the box, a sheet of black rubber foam, and after trying a few configurations came up with this:


It can hold a 7-dice polyhedral set plus 2d6, or plus 1 extra d20 and d6 (for D&D 5E games), a few pencils and an eraser, and a post-it note pad. If you don't mind folding a character sheet, that can fit inside the box too. The bottom and inside lid of the box are lined with rubber foam so the the large compartment can serve as a dice tray and the dice won'y rattle when the box is closed. The box clips shut securely, which is important.

It's not as fancy as one of those custom-built wooden RPG boxes, but it's light-weight, compact, and cheap.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Black Tree Design Dwarf Hammerers and Stone Launcher and June Giveaway


A bit of a painting spree yesterday and today saw me clear my painting list. The two final units are the BTD Dwarf Hammerers pictured above, and the BTD Dwarf Stone Launcher pictured below.

The Hammerers are pretty much painted 'as is', except for the banner pole which I converted to look more GW. The command figures and three dwarves behind them are based on a stone plinth on a multibase, but the rest are based singly. As before, these are for Adrian and so the bases are left unflocked so he can complete them in his own style.


The Dwarf Stone Launcher came from Fg, who bought a few packs of the BTD dwarves way back when but never got around to painting them.

Which brings me to June's giveaway!

I have an extra Stone Launcher, plus a unit of 15 Hammerers to give away for June.

The Stone Launcher is missing the crossbar at the top (the thing that prevents the catapult arm from over-swinging, if you catch my meaning - I use a piece of plastic sprue cut to length to replace it).

The Hammerers come without a musician, and are missing a few shields.

Once again, if you want these two items, do leave a comment, and I will draw a recipient on 01 June. This is not a first-come, first-serve offer.

The offer is free: once I let you know you have been drawn, do let me have your email and mailing address and I will send them off to you. You don't even have to pay for postage; I am just helping Fg give these figures a chance to see some tabletop daylight.

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kings of War 2 first game


Fg and I played two games of KoW this afternoon. This was the first time we played the rules, but they are easy to learn and remember, and with just a few special rules for each of the armies we used. we think we got most of the rules right.

In the first game my goblins spread themselves too thin and did not bring their numerical advantage to bear, and were rolled up on one flank and the whole army destroyed quickly.

In my second game I decided to deploy on a smaller frontage and keep a small reserve. This was a better strategy as it allowed the goblins to execute a number of flank charges on the humans, although with their weak attack and the human's high defence, it took a few rounds to rout a human unit.

The goblins repulsed the attack to their front, and I had just manoeuvred the war haggises (maw beasts in KoW) to charge the human unit that has breached my left flank when they failed their test to charge (due to being Yellow-Bellied), costing me the game.

The hit marker dice holders in action
It has literally been years since we last played a mass-battle game, and both the armies we used today had taken years to be ready, so I am happy that we enjoyed the game. It really does play as fast as people say it does, and the simple movement rules mean that units can and do manoeuvre.

My war haggises!
We played 1000-point games, but I do have enough figures for 2000-point games. The goblins are really quite weak, but I think at higher point games their numbers will be more telling.

I look forward to playing another game soon.


Monday, May 08, 2017

Gazetteer of the Known Galaxy

Map from NASA

This is a gazetteer of the galaxy our Space Opera campaign is set in. The setting is based on the bits of information from the Savage Worlds sci-fi setting, with adapted information from the various modules I use for our sessions. I will update this entry with new information after each session.


General Information

The galaxy is divided politically into three main parts: the human-dominated United Confederation on one side, the Rakashan-led (lion-headed humanoid) Tazanian Empire on the other, and the Neutral Zone between them.

The Neutral Zone was created in the aftermath of the century-long war between the United Confederation and the Tazanian Empire. The are comprises thousands of systems and planets, many of those inhabited. Each system is nominally independent, although several systems may band together to form political unities - however, none rival the power of either the United Confederation or the Tazanian Empire.

Ships from either of the major powers are forbidden from entering the Neutral Zone. Trade and transport through and within the Neutral Zone are therefore conducted through third parties, notably the Galactic Teamsters Guild.

The Galactic Teamsters Guild



Having its origins in the pre-hyperspace era of Earth's history, the Galactic Teamsters Guild is a loose organisation of traders, transport workers, and other professionals who are involved in the business of moving large volumes of cargo and personnel through the Neutral Zone and beyond.

The Guild has an open employment policy and does not discriminate based on species, gender, criminal record, and some say competence.

The Guild's headquarters is located at the Galactic Core Point.


The Order

symbol of The Order

A political movement that has arisen during the previous 2 standard years, The Order now comprises several member systems in the Dead Zone, a region of the galaxy known for having few habitable planets. Little is known about the leadership of The Order, but its stated purpose is to bring unity to the Neutral Zone so its numerous systems will not be at the mercy of the United Confederation or the Tazanian Empire.


Some planets of the Neutral Zone


Tropico


source

A resort planet, where the rich come for their vacations, and the even richer have their vacation homes. Tropico's surface is covered mostly by the ocean, with a belt of islands dotted around its tropical and subtropical zone.

- Notable persons and organisations

Kruger - Billionaire philanthropist, darling of the high society, and crime lord. Kruger has his vacation home on a private island near Tropico City, connected to the mainland by a causeway.

Scabarus - Crime lord and rival of Kruger, indicted for organised crimes on several occasions but never convicted.


Mechano


An industrial planet, where almost every inch of the planet's surface is covered by roads, factories, foundries and refineries, Mechano, also known as Wayland, is ruled by a Syndicate of 25 members elected from the industrial leaders of the planet. The head of the Syndicate, the Syndic, is in turn elected from among these members, for 5-yearly terms.

- Notable persons and organisations

Cyril Kornbluth - The current Syndic who is seeking re-election.

Frederik Pohl - A prominent member of the Syndicate, Pohl is expected to be contesting in the upcoming election.

Cryolon




Two centuries ago, the technologically-advanced planet of Cryolon was struck by a mysterious plague that had no known cure. To deal with the large number of dying citizens, the planet developed its cryogenic technology, hoping to revive its people once a cure was found. No cure was ever found, but over the centuries the Cryolans continued to improve their cryogenic technology, and it has become a religion on the planet and its leading export.


Wotan V



A gas giant in the Wotan system, Wotan V is orbited by a StarMart, a fueling station on the Catalia Run.

Boromite



A barren planetoid, Boromite once housed an outpost of the United Confederation Navy. After the formation of the Neutral Zone, the outpose was abandoned.

Spensonia


The arid planet of Spensonia is rumoured to be a sanctuary for pirates, although several expeditions by various systems have failed to locate the fabled city of pirates.

Anchura


One of the few habitable planets in the sector known as the Dead Zone, Anchura's main export is the blunana, a staple diet of many systems. It recently joined The Order after a near-bloodless coup.

- Notable persons and organisations

President Tru'hiyo - After escaping the planet, President Tru-hiyo now lives in exile at the Galactic Core Point.

WynGate Casino



On of the many orbiting casinos owned by Wyn Group, the WynGate started operating in orbit around Hircep-2, a Serran planet. However, with Hircep-2 joining The Order recently, the fate of the casino is uncertain.

Drissan V


Located just outside the Dead Zone, the planet of Drissan V has recently concluded a peace with their neighbour Zakka after a long war. Political analysts believe the increasing pro-Order sentiments in the war-weary populace of both systems was the key factor for the governments' desire to seek an end to the conflict.

Arunsir



An arid planet near the Dead Zone, Arunsir was a United Confederation colony before it was incorporated into the Neutral Zone as part of the peace treaty that ended the war. It boasts of a functioning spaceport, but little else.

Armada Works



The largest warship manufacturer in the Neutral Zone, Armada Works comprises of two separate space stations located in the asteroid belt in the Sargoza system: the Foundry, where asteroids and crushed and their ore extracted for manufacturing of the components of the warships, and the Arsenal, where the parts are assembled, and where the visitors' centre and offices are also housed.

Suka

source
Suka is home to the Sages of the Stars, an ancient order that keeps the history of the galaxy. Suka city is protected by the perpetual cloud cover over the planet, as well as a forcefield than envelops the entire city.