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Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Few Random Thoughts on a Thursday Afternoon

First- it's been too hot here to spend too much time in front of my computer blogging, one of the AC units is installed now, so it shouldn't be too bad for a little while longer, then we'll install the smaller, helper AC unit, but I imagine I'll still keep my computer in suspend mode for most of the day every day until the cool season approaches again. Partly out of energy consciousness, I like to be as green as possible and I hate paying too much to National Grid every month.

Second- I looked through the pictures of the stuff I have bought on Ebay recently, and if you just judged what I was planning for a game on that alone, I think you'd have to assume I was planning to set a Star Wars campaign up where all the PCs were stranded on a feudal Japanese type planet. Theoretically it could work, they both use the D20 system, and I have always mentioned whenever I picked up a WEG D6 module or supplement that it was for conversion to the WotC D20 Star Wars system. Nearly every purchase I have made, especially recently, for Legend of the Five Rings RPG has been for the dual statted 2nd edition/D20 Oriental Adventures edition. I think it could work.

Third- I grounded my son John from his 4th edition D&D game, indefinitely. I have several reasons for this, and both he and I and his mom know they are all good, valid reasons; but he's pretty pissed off about it anyway. His DM is a teacher and rescheduled the games for a school night too because he likes to go camping on the weekends, what was he thinking? He could have at least waited until school was out for the summer before making the change to Wednesday nights. To make up for it I offered to DM a game for him and his buddies on Friday nights, but he wasn't interested.

Fourth- Do you all think that Monte Cook left the D&D Next project because they wouldn't just let him do a rewrite/upgrade of 3.x D&D? That thought has been rattling around in my brain since he abruptly left the project. I haven't been keeping up with all the D&D Next stuff going on, although I have the playtest packet I haven't gotten around to more than skimming the first few pages of the "How to Play" booklet and I looked at the Cleric of Moradin character sheet

I got this in the mail today too.

Ironically, I think John would love playing a Ninja, but lately it's been difficult to get him to even play a game here at the house. He claims to hate the fact that his mom is always the de facto party leader and he never gets to show any initiative; sadly, usually when he attempts to "show initiative", what he's really doing is showboating and trying to play the game by himself. One example: the entire party had been captured by pirates, we used team work to get him out of the pit we were stuck in. Rather than lower a rope, so the rest of us could escape the pit while the pirates were distracted (torturing one of our party members), he decided to explore the entire pirate camp and then come back for us, and then without any weapons or anything useful; he had just scouted the area.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D&D Next, Dawn Patrol, and other things

First I'll write about the trials and tribulations I went through getting the D&D Next playtest packet, they emailed me on the 24th, I didn't get it until late on the 27th. Somewhere along the way my repeated attempts to retrieve the packet got my WotC account canceled and I had to set up a new one, I got to use the same email address, but had to change my screen name. No biggie, I don't hang out there anyway.

Saturday I went and played Dawn Patrol with Darryl Sr. and Darryl Jr., I had neither John nor Dalton with me, I fear they may not be interested enough in WW I aerial combat, or that their introduction to the game has turned them off to it. I guess we'll see next weekend. The game itself was short, two turns long.

Set Up: We rolled 2d4 to advance the calender to February 17, 1917, and I rolled the weather conditions while Darryl Jr. rolled up the mission and starting altitude for our flights. For the record- there was a negligible breeze from the south west, and one thick cloud bank running from 6,600'-7,100'. Both flights actually rolled starting altitudes higher than their ceilings, so we just started them at their ceilings. We were 99 squares inside French held territory, and the front was 108 squares wide. The French mission was a Fighter patrol, the German mission was photo-recon.

Darryl Sr. and I had drawn allied counters from the hat, and both ended up flying French Spad VIIs, he was flight leader with his Lieutenant Gilles Chenault and I was his wingman with my less experienced Serbian pilot (who had barely made it home last time) Sous-Lieutenant Vaclev Petrovic, flying our squadron's brand new replacement Spad VII, since it had only been a week since I returned my last Spad badly damaged.

Darryl Jr. had his pair of Vizefeldwebels Hans Grüber and Dirk Schmidt flying a pair of Roland CII's (AKA "The Whale") at 16,500' and realizing that he had: A- Two enemy fighters at 18,000' headed straight for them.

Turn 1: Unfortunately for the French, the Germans won the initiative roll and we were forced to go first. Lt. Chenault dropped to 16,500' and so did I, only facing towards him so the enemy would have to face fire from one of us if they chose to engage rather than dive towards their mission objective. Both German aircraft dove to 16,400' and lined up on Lt. Chenault's aircraft; from their slightly underneath position both the pilots and the observers guns, they all fired long bursts and they all hit, scoring a total of 9 hits on Lt. Chenault's Spad, spread out pretty evenly across his wings and tail. I fired an interrupted burst at the nearest plane, as it turns out it was Grüber's; but my gun jammed and I only got one hit to his tail.

This was the end of turn one, Darryl Jr. stated that he figured there was no way he could complete his mission if he had to dive to below 6,600' with two Spads chasing him, so chose instead to try and make a kill or drive us off, play a little reckless since he didn't think he had a shot at winning the scenario otherwise, and, metagaming a bit, both of these pilots had zero missions/zero kills so it was no great loss to him if they went down trying to be ballsy.

Turn 2: Grüber is forced to go first and dives to 15,000'. I go second and dive to 14,950' to get below Grüber's observer's gun, I miscount the squares and end up underneath Grüber rather than behind him in tailing position, I also fail to clear my gun jam. Schmidt goes next and over dives into tailing position behind me. Lt. Chenault also over dives and fails the roll to break-up (15%, he rolled an 01; yes, we heretics use percentile dice when playing Dawn Patrol instead of the d6% charts). Schmidt, having dropped into the perfect firing position for a shot at me with both pilot's and observer's guns, naturally takes the shots, hitting with both. My plane takes 6 hits, 4 to the Left Wing. My flight leader down, and outnumbered two to one in a fairly damaged aircraft, I decide discretion is the better part of valor today and disengage.

Post Game: We just assumed that the Germans dove below the cloud cover and compled their mission. Lt. Chenault miraculously survived his 14,900' crash landing, the plane was destroyed and he was wounded, but he'll be available for duty again on March 2nd 1917. Either Grüber or Schmidt is going to get credit for the kill, we already determined which one it was, but I forgot and it's not written on the mission logs I brought home with me so I could give a more accurate blow by blow report, and Darryl Jr. didn't give me his pilot roster either. I have everyone else's, so I can be the "official" experience point tracker. I also get to come up with names for all of the, until now, nameless, faceless, rank-less and experience-less Observers. Observers are people too, they can get better at their jobs.

Since we still had a whole bunch of time left over after our two turn Dawn Patrol game, I suggested that we play some classic MB Axis & Allies, because we used to love that game, and we were masters of it, and that's not an idle boast; at Gen Con in 1990 Darryl (Jr) and I, playing the Axis as a team beat the Allies on the second turn of the game. Now, we always play with one house rule and one recommended rule. Our house rule is that in a three player game the Axis is played by one player, not split up. The recommended rule is that Russia doesn't attack on the first turn, which is pretty standard. So one player plays Germany and Japan, one plays the US and USSR, and one plays Britain.

We each have our specialties, I am best with the Axis and worst with Britain. Darryl Sr is best with US/USSR and worst with the Axis. Darryl Jr. is best with Britain and probably equally bad with either of the other powers, which is still pretty good. We drew control counters from my hat and I got the Axis, Darryl Sr. got the US/USSR and Darryl Jr. got Britain, but he hates playing Britain because of the great length between turns, so his dad traded with him when he complained about how it always seems to be the same game we play.

This game did not go well for me, Russia had an unusually aggressive build of tanks and infantry on their first turn, the tanks were built in Russia, the infantry in Karelia, all but one of the infantry in Caucasus was moved to Karelia, all the infantry and the fighter from Russia were moved to Karelia and then they moved their transport to the British sea zone, to join the British fleet there, and their submarine to the eastern Canada sea zone to join the British transport there. Out in the Soviet east they shuffled all of their troops into the Yakut S.S.R., with the exception of the tank, which was moved to Novosibirsk and one lonely infantry left in the Soviet Far East.

My first turn German build is pretty standardized by now, I build a fighter and four tanks. From Italy I sent the battleship to clear the sea zone above Egypt and the transport with two infantry. My corps of troops already in Africa, I sent the one infantry that couldn't reach the fighting down int French West Africa, blitzed my tank through French Equatorial Africa into Anglo-Egypt Sudan and waited for the sea battle to see whether or not there'd be any more troops coming in; there would be but it cost me my battleship, the start of my bad luck on this turn. I fought the battle in Egypt and took higher than normal casualties too, all three infantry dead. I had sent two fighters after the British battleship at Gibraltar, I sank it, but lost a fighter doing it, about what is usual. I sent the German sub over to sink the American transport and lost that fight, which is pretty unusual, but happens. I sent the bomber from Germany over to sink the British transport (and it's Soviet submarine buddy), my bomber hit and they took the British transport as a casualty and retreated the Soviet submarine down to join the American transport. I sent my Baltic submarine and the three remaining fighters from the Luftwaffe to attack the combined British/Soviet fleet in the sea zone surrounding Britain, they were actually quite successful and I only lost the submarine, the British lost a battleship and a transport, plus the Soviet transport. I sent one tank from the Ukraine into the Caucasus and killed the infantry there, but the lucky bastard took my panzer out too.

But this was all just the precursor to my massed attack on Karelia, the tanks from everywhere except Western Europe could make it there, and the infantry from everywhere but Germany, I used the transport in the Baltic to take the two infantry from Western Europe and amphibiously invade Karelia too via the Baltic. That may be another house rule, we rule that only units that have been involved in an amphibious invasion cannot retreat, so of course they get to be the first casualties generally speaking. Anyway, the first turn of combat went OK, I hit slightly less than the odds said I should and the Russians hit me right about on the odds, so sticking around for a second round of combat was the obvious choice, the odds were still in my favor. Then lady luck deserted me, bad, and she left me for Darryl's Russians. I don't recall how horrible it was exactly, but I am not sure I had any infantry left at all when I retreated to the Ukraine, I am pretty sure I may have taken tank losses.

So I non-combat moved my infantry from Germany to Eastern Europe, and my tanks from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, landed my surviving fighters in Eastern Europe and my bomber in Germany; built my new tanks in Germany and my new fighter in Italy.

Then Britain went, they abandoned India to drive the German forces from Africa, they had no trouble taking out my tank in Egypt. They used their two fighters from Britain to sink my transport in the Baltic, of course I missed them on my counter-attack; then they landed them in Karelia to protect the Russians from another onslaught by my depleted forces. Then they built an industrial complex in South Africa and I forget what else.

My first turn build for the Japanese is pretty standard now too, an industrial complex and a transport. The complex is so I can start building some stuff on the continent and the transport is just to upgrade my shipping capacity. Being so obliged by the British departure, I felt compelled as the Japanese to simply walk in and take India, this was the high point of Japan's turn, and possibly their biggest mistake. I sent the tank from Japan on the transport with the battleship to attack Soviet Far East, the battleship bombardment failed, do they ever work? Then the tank missed and was killed by the infantry counter-attack, a sad and pathetic end to that amphibious invasion. I used the submarine, some fighters and the bomber from Japan to attack the American fleet at Hawaii and destroyed them with just the loss of the submarine. That was the end of my attacks.

I non-combat moved my other battleship and aircraft carrier to Hawaii. I also moved troops and fighters to Manchuria, to counter the Soviet threat, and then placed my industrial complex there and my transport in the Japan sea zone.

The US wasted no time, they sent their transport across the Atlantic and took Algeria, with a single infantry no less. They also attacked both French Indo-China Burma and Kwangtung, since I'd left them empty. Then they started building a Pacific fleet off the Western USA, presumably to challenge Japan's dominance of the Pacific, but I was willing to cede the Pacific to take Asia from the Americans, Russians and British.

Now, I have always said, one of the things that sadly can't be fixed, but really does suck about this game is that the Allies get to go twice in a row, and now it was Russia's turn to attack. I remember pretty clearly what happened in Europe, because it affected the rest of the game, Asia not so well. In Europe the Red Army replete with tanks and infantry smashed their way into the Ukraine, and it was a crushing defeat for the Wehrmacht. They may have launched an unsuccessful attack on Japanese positions in Manchuria this turn as well, trying to take out the industrial complex before it could start production on this turn. The loss to the Germans was huge though, that was every remaining tank they had started the game with, except for the one from Western Europe. After taking the Ukraine, he non-combat moved the anti-aircraft gun from Karelia to there, and the one from Russia to Karelia. He also non-combat moves his submarine through the Panama canal.

Germany's turn and the war wasn't going as planned. I built eleven infantry. I used my Mediterranean transport to pick up a single tank and land it in Caucasus via the Black Sea, the rest of my forces launched an attack into the Ukraine, the odds were in my favor and it would destroy a bunch of Soviet tanks, but I had six aircraft going into the battle and he had an anti-aircraft gun. The odds said he would take out one, I thought at worst two, but no, he shot down three. The odds no longer favored my victory, but I was stuck for one round of, what turned out to be, a very punishing combat. I retreated to Eastern Europe, much the worse for wear and built my eleven infantry in Germany. You all can see where this is going right?

Britain goes, they take French Equatorial Africa from Germany, and sink my transport in the Black Sea, I believe they then landed in Egypt where they built another industrial complex and a pair of tanks for the complex in South Africa. All things considered, they're actually moving rather slow and methodical.

Japan actually had a pretty good turn, I built a pair of tanks for Manchuria, and I forget what else. I landed infantry in Soviet Far East, successfully, launched an amphibious invasion into French Indo-China Burma, successfully and launched an attack against China from Manchuria, unsuccessfully, but not disastrously. I non-combat move some more infantry from the islands with my transports to the Asian mainland.

The US continues it's Pacific naval build up, but, in a surprise move, also builds an industrial complex in Sinkiang, his sole combat move is to invade Western Europe with that Cheeky infantry from Algeria, it's an unopposed D-Day landing, it's not that I didn't see that it could happen, it's just that the Russians were the bigger threat. To be fair, if they'd noticed, the British could have done the same thing to Italy on their turn, but they were focused on Asia and Africa. All remaining American troops in Asia are pulling back to defend Sinkiang, this includes, I believe, fighters that had been spending time in Karelia.

Russia gets to go, they build a bunch of stuff, probably tanks and infantry, the Soviet juggernaut is just unstoppable in Europe at this point, they smash their way into Eastern Europe even more easily than they did the Ukraine, they also send a minimal force, one infantry and one fighter I believe, to take out the lone German tank in Caucasus before he has a chance to have any behind the lines fun. Surviving Soviet troops from the east make their way to Sinkiang to bolster the defenses of the American industrial complex, the Soviet fighters no longer needed in Karelia, also join them. The Soviet submarine non-combat moves up to join the American fleet off the Coast of Western USA.

Germany Builds ten infantry. Six infantry are sent to attack the American infantry in Western Europe, they win losing two of their number. I non-combat move the remaining five infantry to Italy so it will have some defense against either the British or the Soviets. I place my ten new infantry in Germany. Surprisingly, Germany still makes, I think, 27 IPCs this turn.

Britain goes and finally takes Libya, they build some tanks and a transport. They are going slow, I think the old man is tired and he is missing a lot of easy things. He's 70 years old now and I think maybe we should cut him some slack, the counter argument to this though is two fold, first, he didn't cut either Darryl or I any slack when we were 12 and just learning to game and second, keeping the mind active is shown in studies to prevent Alzheimer's and other degenerative mental conditions. So maybe the fact that we haven't been keeping him competitive for the last decade or so has made his gaming skills rusty, maybe he is a little slower to think his moves through, he's the man that turned me into the wargamer I am today. I owe him. Anyway, he sends a bunch of fighters to Sinkiang too, it's going to be a tough nut to crack.

Japan goes and has a great turn, they take every objective they set out for, which, in my opinion, only puts them about two full turns behind schedule. the two tanks from the Manchurian factory blitz through Yakut S.S.R., splitting up to take Evenki Nat'l Okrug and Novosibirsk; infantry and fighters attack China and win. I strategic bomb the US for free! At some point I had consolidated my fleet around Japan, so it wasn't within striking range of the US fleet with their submarines. I build three tanks for my Manchurian industrial complex and I forget what else.

USA goes, I don't recall what they did, honestly, it was short and probably just built stuff in Sinkiang for our big showdown.

Russia goes they attack the two tanks bordering Russia with one infantry and one fighter in one spot and one tank and one fighter in the other, they win both battles and take back their territories, but the real deal is the invasion of Germany, Germany's luck holding about how it had been versus the Soviets all game, they didn't even inflict serious casualties on the invading force. Germany fell, I handed the Russians my IPCs, which I think is a broken rule, but that's neither here nor there; then I considered my options for about ten seconds and conceded the game.

So, Saturday handed me two losses in one day. Sunday was Lance's birthday, and I have to say, I get the impression he isn't happy or fitting in with my D&D group. Since he's been back to work he hasn't made it to a single game. Audra is his girlfriend, so I am pretty sure she is only coming to spend more time with him and check out his interests. Lee Ann just got a new job in the ER and is working 12 hour shifts, and doesn't always get Sundays off. John enjoys playing 4th edition with his buddies more than any edition here at home with his family, he particularly hates that his mom is the de facto party leader. Ember only ever wants to play if Lee Ann is going to be here to play too. Mona is usually always up for a game, but gets sick of having to herd the cats that make up most of the rest of the party. Ashli wants to play, but her medication makes concentration difficult and she often has to leave the table for naps. Dalton is pretty much always up for a game, but I have to pick him up, and if every other player is no-showing on me, sometimes I don't feel like it.

I guess I am in desperate need of a group of players that want to play some old school D&D B/X or 1st edition AD&D with B/X leanings in the central NY area. Oswego county would be best if I have to travel, gas prices being what they are. Weekends are best for me, but I am flexible and we don't really have to play at my house, in fact my house isn't really the best place to play, we just make due.

Every single game I have had scheduled since the end of March has been canceled for one reason or another, it's almost June. This is driving me crazy. I have two different campaign projects I am running/playtesting new stuff for, cancellations kill campaigns.

Anyway, I hope Lance had a good birthday and everyone had a good Memorial Day. I haven't had time to read through the playtest packet for D&D Next yet, I hope you all enjoyed my lengthy game play reports and here's some Ebay pics of stuff I got in the mail recently.   

I already had the Rokugan book, but not the other two. The price was good though so, I figure I'll just pass along the Rokugan book to someone else.

I didn't really think about it, but did they really need a specific "Way of the" book for Daimyo? I mean, it's not like they're a dime a dozen.

I also find it interesting that the highest and the lowest were bundled together, Thieves and Daimyo. What point was the seller subconsciously making?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Games That Define Us- Great Khan Edition

Obviously, since this is an OSR blog, I feel like I should open with D&D/AD&D. I saw the ads for the Holmes Basic Set in "Boy's Life", the Cub Scout magazine and I was hooked, it took me something like a year to find a store that sold that D&D boxed set, sometime in early 1980. My next D&D purchase was the AD&D Monster Manual, then the Cook/Marsh Expert Set, followed by a Christmas present of both the AD&D Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide, this set the tone for some confused rulings over the years as a DM, since I was playing a hybrid of Holmes, the X half of B/X and AD&D, but over the years I started to fall more in line with AD&D orthodoxy, with a few exceptions. Then, in 1985, I pre-ordered Oriental Adventures and it has been almost an obsession ever since.

Chess- Chess had to make the cut here because it is one of the first thinking man's board games that I ever learned. I learned how to play when I was in second grade, just because it was one of the quite games on the shelf in my classroom we got to play during recess time when it was raining or the weather was otherwise too bad to go outside and play. I really didn't learn the game until high school though when I played regularly with my principal, who was a ranked player, and occasionally I'd even win. My real claim to fame though is that I once played chess against a guy who had played against Bobby Fischer, I met him through my buddy Darryl's dad. Totally got my ass handed to me, it was worth the experience.

Risk- Ah, Risk, the game of world conquest. You taught me that the Ukraine was gigantic and the names of other exotic places. You were wrong about the Ukraine, but I guess a game produced during the cold war wasn't going to give Russia it's due, right? This game taught me two things, basic strategy and the importance of luck. Play with good strategy, take a few chances, and hope your luck holds; I was Risk champion of my dorm. On the other hand I have been beaten by people that had NEVER played the game before, so there you have it.

Axis & Allies (The Game Master edition from the 1980s)- Axis & Allies wasn't the first in this series that I played, that honor goes to Conquest of the Empire; which we also played quite a bit; but Axis & Allies we played more and better. Axis & Allies was the better game right out of the box, even it's recommended optional rules made sense. By the time Axis & Allies hit the scene, I was already a veteran wargamer, but this managed to take a lot of wargame elements and make them accessible to the masses, like a gateway wargame.

Dawn Patrol- This should come as no surprise, since I am currently engaged in a new Dawn Patrol campaign, but it was my first and is still my favorite aerial combat game. I bought it because TSR put it out, and I was a young TSR fanboy at the time, it's taken me this long to get good at it.

Star Fleet Battles- I never really understood why this game got a bad reputation as highly complex to the point where you needed a PhD in Mathematics to play it. I am not a math guy, and I have played a lot of SFB, if filling out the energy allocation sheet is too hard for you I advise going back to remedial 4th grade math. I bought the Commanders edition boxed set the year I turned 14, since my birthday is in July I don't remember if it was before or after I turned 14. I taught myself and my friends how to play, we made a few mistakes along the way in learning, but we had it down after a few games; it says right on the box "1,2 or more players Ages 12 and older". Sure it got a little more complex with each additional boxed set (or module, which I never bought), but it was building on knowledge that you had already mastered.

Up Front- The Squad Leader card game, picking on Avalon Hill title to add to the list was really hard to do, then I remembered the one we always played when we had extra time on our hands, it's quick to set up and play, even when you build you own squads with the point buy system, and it is one of the only games that I have that'll bring Lance and Darryl into the same room, although maybe not anymore, we used to have tournaments. Up Front is one of the few games I don't mind losing just because I had bad luck. Theoretically Multi-Man Publishing has the rights to it now, as part of the Squad Leader line, and they were considering making it a CCG, which would make me want them all to suffer horrible curses, but I would like to see a new edition. I have Up Front and it's official expansions Banzai and Desert War, but the cards have seen a lot of wear over the years.

Koei's Genghis Khan- Yeah, I know, it's a little odd to add a NES game to the list, and this title is really representational of all the Koei titles that were turn based war/administrative games from Nobunaga's Ambition through L'Empereur and including Romance of the Three Kingdoms; but my alter-ego here being the Great Khan, obviously I was going to pick Genghis Khan. I actually still own a NES and a copy of that game, I never play it, the battery inside it is shot so it doesn't save and I can't see leaving it on for the days that would take to complete the game. Darryl and I used to play the hell out of this game together too, in multi-player mode, usually one of us would pick England and the other Japan, since the four playable countries were Mongolia, Byzantium, England and Japan, we wanted as much space as possible between us before we had to start fighting each other.

Talisman- The 2nd edition before it got completely crapped up by the people at Games Workshop and used as yet another way to promote their Warhammer franchise, although this was sneaking into this edition too. This was a go-to game for us if we wanted to play something fantasy, fun and easy to teach/learn. I had, I am pretty sure, every expansion for this game that was released in the US except Timescape, we drew the line there. I always wanted to play in a D&D campaign set in this world, minus the out of place and silly characters. The board evoked a place that was both real and medieval, yet mythic at the same time. The only real drawback to this game was that it could get tedious after having died several times and starting over. I have played the new Fantasy Flight Games version, and while it is much, much nicer than the last Games Workshop edition, the 2nd edition still holds my loyalty, the FFG version is like a more polished, prettier version of my old 2nd edition, but it loses something in the transformation.

Warrior Knights- Have you ever razed a city to win a game? My old gaming group got in touch with the designer to ask him a few questions about the rules and our interpretations and we discovered we were doing the entire political phase wrong, apparently we were supposed to spend all of our votes on a single action. We didn't. We played a much more corrupt and Machiavellian version of the game than had been considered by the designer. We bought and sold votes, forged alliances to screw over whoever was in the lead, and fought over who would hold the wool concession. Games Workshop did a great job with this one, I hear that Fantasy Flight Games has put out a new edition, but, in the words of Lance, who has played it "It sucks. They screwed the pooch on this one". He tried it several times, just to try and get accustomed to the rules changes and that was his ultimate opinion; then he taught his Tuesday Night Gaming Group how we played the old GW version and they had a blast with it.

This was fun, maybe I'll do a part 2 that includes the games I cut from this list.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I used to love taking quizzes....

...and I am a big fan of "The Walking Dead", but it doesn't look like I'd live to see season two, much less season three.

Gamquistu - I could survive for 383 days in the Zombie Apocalypse! How long could you?
Gamquistu - Games, Quizzes and Stuff.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mostly Just the Mail Call 22 MAY 2012

The Dark Side Sourcebook for the WotC D20 version of the Star Wars game came in the mail.

 The front of the book.

The back of the book. The pics are from the EBay auction.

I didn't play Star Wars this weekend, half my group RSVPed that they were sick, My daughter Ember got invited to a birthday party that took place right smack dab in the middle of game time and, frankly, I still feel under prepared to run any D20 based gaming. That and past experience has made me a little gun shy about running games in the Star Wars universe, I just can't shake the feeling that I am jinxed when it comes to Star Wars RPGs.

Still, I know the universe better than anyone else and this is a less rules intensive version of D20 then 3.x D&D was, so maybe it'll work out.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I haven't been neglecting this blog

I have been working on my other one, and spending a frustrating day waiting for a tree guy to actually show up at my house today. He called saying he was on his way over, and he's been here before like four times, just as I was about to leave for my Dawn Patrol game, so I did the responsible adult thing and canceled my Dawn Patrol game, so my wife wouldn't have to try and negotiate with this guy by herself.

He, of course, never showed up. I am really beginning to hate this guy. He treats logging my property like it's a tree removal service job, and it's not really. We have some valuable wood here, but he's always trying to treat it like we want some useless dead or damaged trees taken down and figuring out the cost to himself for equipment and crew. The Cherry trees alone are worth more than enough to finance the rest of the operation, a few years ago I'd have made a few thousand dollars on the deal and he'd have been happy to do it. The problem I have is that my lot is too small for big time loggers to waste time on and the small time guys are all the same, tree removal service guys.

I am supposed to run a D20 Star Wars game tomorrow and I was just going to convert the introductory adventure from the WEG D6 system to run. I have to say, I have had two weeks to prepare for this game and reading through the WotC Star Wars D20 revised has been absolute hell. I remember things from D20 D&D that I ultimately grew to hate and I am feeling under prepared, despite my extra week off due to Mona's birthday and Mother's Day.

I have actually found my attention wandering to both my Garnia campaign, hence the slight burst of activity on the other blog, and my Oriental Adventures project which has drawn my attention to both the Asian flavored potion of Garnia and all the fixes I still need to make and playtest for 1st edition AD&D's Oriental Adventures book, which I guess means that I'll have something "inspired by" that book, eventually. I also kind of want to play my B/X Vikings setting, but I am having a hard time coming up with a quorum of players, that whole drop-in, drop-out thing hasn't worked in practice; which is why we decided to go with Star Wars in the first place, more powerful PCs.

I also got this in the mail, two copies-

Lastly, bonus points if you can pick out which of these ancient Celt miniatures most resembles my fighting style in SCA battles. Click to embiggen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Possibly an odd question to ask...

....especially on an old school gaming blog; but one of the things we were talking about at our latest Garnia brainstorming session, and have talked about in the past as well, was the possibility of making the campaign world system neutral and letting people "plug in" what ever system they are most comfortable with. Now I have D&D/AD&D and it's clones/simulacra pretty well in hand. We have a Fudge guy and a Savage Worlds guy, so what I am really looking for is a guy that can spread the audience a but more to the modern gamer- a Pathfinder guy. I guess a GURPS guy couldn't hurt either. Anyone interested in the project should comment either here or go check out my other blog and comment there.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Just a Quick Post Today

It is my wife Mona's birthday, so I spent much of my day procuring the ingredients for and preparing the once per year special "Seafood Alfredo Primavera" and other traditional Italian side dishes that go with it. I always find, year after year, that I am not especially interested in eating the food after spending so much time preparing it. I cut back this year too, I usually make a second pasta dish with marinara sauce, Italian sausage and meatballs, but I have gotten sick of eating left-overs from her birthday dinner for a week because I only know how to cook in bulk, as it is I am surprised that the garlic bread was as big a hit this year as it was, no left overs there. I only made one loaf, but usually the kids complain that it's too garlic-ey. My long years toiling as a cook at least make my wife happy one day a year.

Her main present still hasn't arrived from Amazon, my Prime membership means nothing in this case because it was through another seller, so that sucks. But I got some cool stuff in the mail.

I got this Star Wars Gamemaster Kit from Ebay as soon as I realized I'd be running a Star Wars game, I figured it didn't matter that it was for the WEG D6 system rather than the WotC D20 version, it would probably have some good advice.

All of these sets of Clan War Miniatures were just too good a deal for me to pass on.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

OK, I haven't blogged in a few days

First my dad was in the hospital for the last day of the April A-Z challenge, which I guess means I won't be getting a spiffy award for completion this year; then I got sick with the same bug that's hit the rest of my family, I swear children are plague-bearers, this never happened to me before I had kids. After that I guess it's just the laziness about blogging that sets in when you skip a few days, it just gets harder and harder to get back in the saddle; you keep finding excuses. I didn't even have good ones, like "There's a bunch of work to be done outside!", because the weather has been so rainy here.

I actually figured when I got back to blogging it'd be either about my Mongol fixation or about my Oriental Adventures project, still working. I actually tried to entice my D&D group to get back to OA to playtest some of my new stuff, and I have been reading a lot of eastern philosophy, Asian RPG and Miniature game rules sets and novels set in Feudal Japan during my recovery from illness. Actually, the Mongol and feudal Japanese and eastern philosophy all kind of go together for the same project anyway.

On to gaming, we decided, since Lance's work schedule has made his attendance spotty, and since Audra is a new gamer and his girlfriend, so she really only comes to the games he does, and Lee Ann was in San Francisco for some reason; we'd give Star Wars a shot since it was a Star Wars holiday weekend (May the Fourth be with you, Revenge of the Fifth), although our game was technically on the sixth, so I guess you could extend that out to "Revenge of the Sixth"? Too much? Anyway, I decided to GM, despite my desperate desire to actually PLAY in a Star Wars game*. Like many decisions I've made in my life I put off choosing which system to use until the absolute last possible second, the moments leading up to character creation.

WEG D6 system lost out to WotC's D20 system for the sole reason that everyone in the group already knows how to play D&D, and has at least a little bit of experience with 3rd edition D&D. I also have more copies of the rulebooks to pass around for character creation. I went with the D20 revised edition, because I had more stuff for it, and I figured that it probably corrected some issues with the original core rules. My later research on the web seems to indicate that I was right, but that edition would have been a better choice still, but I don't have a lot of Saga edition books and they are stupid expensive on both Amazon and Ebay.

Anyway, I am still going to convert a bunch of my stuff from the D6 system to the D20 system, and a lot of the old WEG stuff is ind of rules-lite anyway. I am setting the campaign during the Rebellion, shortly after the destruction of Alderaan, in fact all of the current PCs are Alderaanians that just happened to be off world when the Death Star destroyed their home world. Now, we know that Alderaan was a peaceful planet with no weapons, yet it was still a hotbed of rebel activity. My take on this is that the average Alderaanian is taught to be like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., it's all about non-violent resistance, right? I figure that this diverse group of survivors, many of whom may have had pro-rebellion sympathies before their home world was destroyed by the Empire, decided to be a little less like Dr. King and a little more like Malcolm X. Passive resistance was no longer an option, it was time for a more active role in their resistance to the Empire.

All of the current PCs are Human, one is a Noble, one is a Soldier (just completed Imperial Flight School!), one is a Force Adept, I assume from some sect of non-Jedi sometimes Force-Sensitive religious cult on Alderaan, and the last is a Scout who had the wanderlust.

Next I got some stuff in the mail-

The Manor was a great little zine and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it, which is something I can't say about any professionally produced magazine I have bought in a long time. I bought it the day it became available, and I have had it for a few days now, but didn't really get a chance to sit down and read it cover to cover until today. Well worth the money.

Secrets of the Scorpion. I know I swore off buying Legend of the Five Rings stuff as a New Years resolution, but it was such a bargain and I still hold out hope that I may eventually play that game. Plus I fell off the Ebay wagon pretty hard this month, indulging in all of my hobby whims pretty indiscriminately; perhaps not the best idea since my wife's birthday is Friday, followed by Mother's Day on Sunday.

Fortunes and Winds. Another Legends of the Five Rings Score, I don't even know what this book is about, except that I can ALMOST convince myself that it will be useful for my OA project because it is one of the Dual-Statted L5R 2nd edition RPG/3e D&D OA books.

Plus I have probably been thinking about Rokugan lately because my Lion clan just lost a major battle to the Dragon clan in the Emerald Empire game I play on Facebook.

*or a Star Trek game, or a D&D game, I am not picky.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My son played in a 4th edition D&D game today.

I was going to write about how today was Star Wars day- May the Fourth be with you! and all that, I actually have had Star Wars on my mind as a result of the Star Wars blitz that's just everywhere today. So I guess I'll talk about that a bit first. My first experience with any Star Wars RPG was the D6 West End Games version, and I have a bunch of stuff for the game, and I have run a couple of different campaigns set in the WEG Star Wars system. Sadly, they were failures. Not that fun wasn't had, but something went wrong.

I think part of the reason they were failures was that WEG D6 Star Wars was one of the 1st non-D&D games I ever tried to teach myself and others how to play. I think the other, and perhaps bigger, part of the failure of my WEG Star Wars experience was that my players were all D&D players; sure they were Star Wars fans too, hell they'd been Star Wars fans since before they were D&D players, but the fact that they'd been D&D players for years before WEG came out with their Star Wars RPG meant that they went into Star Wars with a D&D mind set. The D&D mind set is distinctly not a heroic Star Wars rebellion against the Empire type mind set. Yes, people will argue that Han Solo did it all for the money, OK, whatever, he had Jabba the Hutt to pay off. My real problem was that everyone wanted to be shadier than Han Solo, they wanted to be Boba Fett, only working for the rebels, but only because the game made them. Worse than that, after every single firefight, they were looting corpses like in D&D, stripping off Stormtrooper Armor because it was better than their own stuff, taking weapons, real non-heroic, non-Star Wars type stuff; and how do you enforce a "feel" on the universe?

Years passed, I pretty much gave up on WEG D6 Star Wars RPG, I just assumed I'd never find the right group to play with, then the prequels came out and pretty much screwed the whole thing up anyway. I gave WotC D20 Star Wars a shot, I bought every single issue of Star Wars Gamer that the released, yes, I was the one, and eventually I found a group of people willing to give me a shot GMing that game. I dropped the ball there too. I didn't actually own the book at the time, my friend Mark did, I had an introductory adventure to run, which I familiarized myself with, but, to be honest, I am always better with my own material or material that I alter to suit my needs. In my hubris, I assumed that my intimate familiarity with 3rd edition D&D would be enough to get me over the hurdle of not being actually familiar with the specifics of the rules of D20 Star Wars, so I was unprepared I guess. That kind of soured me on the experience, and I was getting soured on 3rd edition D&D at roughly the same time, so there may have been some synergy there.

I had also been hearing via the internet how WotC D20 Star Wars just wasn't as good as WEG D6 Star Wars had been. Then I started hearing things about how a GM that knows too much about a universe can make it suck for the players, and I wondered if maybe that was my problem, I was projecting what I thought Star Wars should be like onto my players, rather than letting them play out their own stories in the Star Wars universe. Mind you, I've heard the same argument made about canon-nazis that question a GM's calls because they violate some obscure bit of canon, and I'd never tolerate that nonsense at my table.

Now, over the last couple of years, my wife has offered on several occasions to run Star Wars games for us, mostly for the kids and me, but I guess anyone in the group would be OK to join; I keep buying new stuff for her, hoping something will catch her interest, I bought the Saga edition book back when it was still available, I have a couple of other Saga edition books I have found on bargains on EBay, I have the D20 Revised and the Original, several copies of each and several sourcebooks for each WotC edition. I bought tons of the Star Wars miniatures, mostly from the first few sets, both because I like the miniatures and because I was using them to tempt my children into playing a tactical wargame with me, it kind of worked for a while. I have even bought more WEG D6 stuff on Ebay over the course of the last year or so trying to tempt my lady into running a game, I don't think it's going to happen.

Then tonight I took my son to a 4th edition D&D game tonight. He made a Thief character, he said it was the most powerful character he's ever played and he kind of liked it. He was the only human in the party.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3rd

Not too much to report today. My dad is home from the hospital, they don't know what the problem was, or he's not telling me, which amounts to the same thing. I am sick and have apparently missed a day or two to some unknown illness where I just spend most of my day asleep and kind of queasy feeling, so that's been fun. Not. I got a couple of packages in the mail from EBay auctions that I won, because I am apparently an addict and can't help myself when I find a good bargain.

Obviously, I already have several copies of this, but one more at the table can't hurt, right?

I actually already have every single miniature from this set too, but you can never have too many pack animals, am I right?

These were just unopened Clan War cards, really cheap. I still have yet to play the game, but I can field an army for every major clan, once I actually get my painting done, and I figure opponents must be out there somewhere.

This is actually my third copy of this book, which pretty much cements the idea that if we ever play the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, it'll be the 2nd edition, because I have more Players Guides for it and lots of other stuff besides.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 30th Z Day

Z day was pretty much bound to suck anyway because I only had one real entry, Zisa, and she is a conjectural Germanic counterpart to Tyr. I suppose that makes her a Goddess of the Aesir, but my heart really isn't in Z day because I spent the day in the emergency room with my dad. They aren't sure what's happened to him, but he's been admitted for testing.

I am almost 43 years old, he is 69 years old, we haven't always had the best relationship. My teen years were none too easy on us, he came from a generation that didn't spare the rod, and I always had a problem with authority, it only got worse when I got a lot bigger and stronger than him. While I was driving into the hospital today I thought about some of the questions I never asked him before, like "Why do you like trains so much?"; that used to drive me nuts as a kid whenever my dad would deliberately stop the car to watch a train go by. I almost understand model railroading, it involves a great deal of skill putting together a decent layout, from the design stage, to the scenery stage; and operations CAN be fun sometimes.

Not that my dad's layout ever achieved any stage of completion, it is in a near constant stage of redesign and reconstruction, some parts haven't been touched in twenty plus years, others are as new as last month. My dad is a master of layout design. Like the Borg, my dad's train layout is slowly assimilating my parent's entire basement, which I think is the real reason we have spent since last July building a huge garage over there, everything that used to be stored in the basement of their house is slowly being moved to the attic of their new garage as we build it.

When I was a kid my dad and his best friend John Liccardi formed the "Oswego Valley Model Railroad Association", I think you can find them on Facebook now, but John died in December of 1985 and my dad's declining health over the years has made him a less active participant. I was a little saddened to see that a lot of the newer people there really had no idea the role my dad had played in the early years, getting that club up off the ground, and John no one mentions at all. Now, just a few of the more local guys come out to my parent's house once a week, on Thursday evenings, that's been "Train Night" for as long as I can remember; they run trains on his layout for a few hours, then they have some of my mom's baked goods.