September 28, 2012

Strange Aeons at Fallcon

The fine folks from Uncle Mike's Worldwide and Trilogy Gaming Club will be co-hosting a tournament of Strange Aeons on Saturday night at Fallcon 2012. There will be four or five boards set up for demos and tournament play; some of which, if the rumors are true, are brand-spanking-new custom creations of the diabolical Uncle Mike himself.

I'll be there representing the congregants of the Cult of the Black Goat, providing demos for new players and death, destruction and mayhem to all those pesky Threshold Agents.

If you'll be in the Calgary on Saturday September 29th, 2012 drop by the convention (see the Fallcon link for venue details) any time between 8 pm and 12 midnight to join in the dark deeds!

Links for you inquisitive types:

September 27, 2012

Wild West Wanderings

Over the weekend I took a fairly lengthy road trip and ended up having a little bit of time to stop in at a game shop on the way. I won't go into my experience at the shop or say what shop it was, because my impressions were mediocre at best. However, I did pick up a few things while I was there.

I had never been able to find the original The Adventurers: Temple of Chac, board game, and so when I saw a decently priced copy I grabbed it. Having read through the rules, set it up and tried a few basic turns I'm not sure how well it will get received in my regular group, but we'll give a go sometime soon and I'll post up my thoughts then.

What I was really looking for when I walked into the shop were some reasonably priced western-themed figures. When I asked for something like that I was told, without hesitation, to "go check a dollar store, I don't have anything like that here," but upon looking around a little I found two packs of nicely pre-painted 28mm figures by em4: Old West Heroes packs 1 and 2.

Each of the boxes contains five fully painted figures, five d20s (each with a skull in face of the 1) and bases for the figures. If you calculate that out with the local taxes, and assuming the dice would cost approximately $1 each, you end up with a cost of about $4.15 per fully painted figure. Now that isn't great, but it's not bad at all when you consider that an unpainted figure in the same scale can frequently cost you $6 or more! Factor in the time savings from not having to paint the figures myself, and I'd easily say that I got a fine deal.

One thing I will mention is that the packaging for the two sets was a little bit misleading, but not actually in a bad way. You see, when I opened each of the boxes I was greeted with more than just the figures and (bonus) dice promised on the packages. After cutting the tape and opening the flap I was greeted by bases (square bases in one box, hex bases in the other), a batch of tokens (10 each of blue, red, yellow and green), and a mini CD advertising full skirmish rules for a game called Old West Shootout. Now I'm no marketing major, but if I was selling a product and it came with extra stuff, and complete rules for a game, I'd damn sure be putting that information on my packaging! So in the end I feel like I got a very good deal. Oddly enough though, the game rules included use d6s, not d20s...but the skull-marked d20s will make great dice for games of Dark Age: Apocalypse so another win there too.

I read through the rules for Old West Shootout and thought it sounded like a fast little gun-fight game. There are full color files that you can print out to create a western town map to play on, and some scenario ideas included in the CD. Sadly there are no close combat rules in the rule book, but I found a sheet of house rules on the game's yahoo group website. I looked through them and they seemed pretty solid, so I thought I'd give them a try. In addition to the brawling rules there were also some rules for fan-firing pistols as well as cheap citizen level characters. I chose only to use the fan-fire and brawling rules in my test game.

Using the point values in the house rules I created two heroes (9 pts each), two characters (7 pts each) and the rest as gunmen (3 or 4 pts each). I set up half of the town map and tried out a quick 5 on 5 gunfight and made sure to try as many of the rules as I could. The only two I didn't get around to trying in my quick game were the fan-fire and held-fire rules. The figures ended up with some wounds, getting shaken through gunfire and fisticuffs, and some flat out "bang you're dead!" results. It is definitely a light game but one that could provide a good experience for people who aren't really the miniature gaming types. Hmm...maybe I can take the game when I go to visit my family on holidays. My dad always did like western movies, and it'd be fun if I could talk him into rolling some dice with me.

Now the main reason I was looking for old west figures in the first place was so that I could try out the rules for Blackwater Gulch; currently available as a free download from Gangfight Games. I decided on those rules in particular after searching around a fair bit. They looked smooth, well-written and seemed to cover off all the beats that I was looking for in a western-themed game, including having campaign rules. The figures in the Old West Heroes sets turned out to be perfectly suited for it as well. They're already painted and there are ten figures total and the minimum size for a gang in games of Blackwater Gulch is five, which gives me a perfect number of figures for two starting gangs.

I based all of my new toys on 30mm round bases, glued some rocks and sand onto them, did some quick dry-brushing and added a little flocking. Now my gunfighters and townsfolk are ready to go! Reading through the book I finally decided on which figures to make into the leaders and professionals for a hero and villain groups. Once I had that sorted I was able to split up the remaining figures into gangs as basic henchman and come up with some lists that I think will be fun and characterful. (One thing I will mention about the BWG rule book is that creating statistics and selecting weapons for your figures will require a lot of flipping back and forth.) However, without further delay, here are the stats for my new western heroes and villains!

Citizens of Blackwater Gulch
Fame: 354
Sheriff Matthias (Leader)
Profession: Gambler
Weapons: Cooper Navy Revolver, Small Knife
Skills: Run & Gun, Really Tough, Bravery, Charge!
Str: 4 Qui: 6 Sta: 5
Int: 4 RC: 4 MC: 4
XP: 105 HP: 4 DP: 3

Robert Howling Feather (Professional)
Profession: Bounty Hunter
Weapons: Tomahawk, Henry Repeater
Skills: Brute Strength, Hearty, Really Tough
Str: 5 Qui: 4 Sta: 3
Int: 3 RC: 3 MC: 4
XP: 82 HP: 3 DP: 2

Deputy Henkel (Henchman)
Weapons: Remington Army Revolver, Bowie Knife
Str: 3 Qui: 3 Sta: 2
Int: 2 RC: 3 MC: 3
XP: 56 HP: 1 DP: 1

Madame Camilla (Henchman)
Weapons: Remington Army Revolver, Throwing Knives
Str: 2 Qui: 4 Sta: 2
Int: 4 RC: 3 MC: 1
XP: 54 HP: 1 DP: 1

One-Tooth Webber (Henchman)
Weapons: Sharps Standard Long Range Rifle, Bowie Knife
Str: 3 Qui: 2 Sta: 2
Int: 2 RC: 4 MC: 3
XP: 57 HP: 1 DP: 1

Dust Hills Desperadoes
Fame: 356
Carlos Sangre (Leader)
Profession: Gunslinger
Weapons: Colt Peacemaker, Small Knife
Skills: Duck & Cover, Run & Gun, Really Tough, Deadeye
Str: 4 Qui: 5 Sta: 4
Int: 4 RC: 6 MC: 4
XP: 107 HP: 4 DP: 4

Pedro Silvera (Professional)
Profession: Gunslinger
Weapons: Cooper Navy Revolver x2, Knuckleduster
Skills: Quickdraw, Strong Arms, Really Tough
Str: 4 Qui: 3 Sta: 4
Int: 3 RC: 4 MC: 4
XP: 85 HP: 3 DP: 2

Jorge Sanchez (Henchman)
Weapons: Parker Short Barrel Shotgun, Small Knife
Str: 3 Qui: 2 Sta: 2
Int: 1 RC: 4 MC: 4
XP: 55 HP: 1 DP: 1

Turncoat Kevin (Henchman)
Weapons: Remington Army Revolver
Str: 2 Qui: 3 Sta: 3
Int: 2 RC: 3 MC: 3
XP: 53 HP: 1 DP: 1

William Wildbeard (Henchman)
Weapons: Remington Rolling Block Rifle
Str: 2 Qui: 2 Sta: 2
Int: 2 RC: 6 MC: 2
XP: 56 HP: 1 DP: 1

I'm really happy with them overall and they feel like characters to me now that I've been able to put together these lists. After I have a few trial runs of the Blackwater Gulch rules you can be sure I'll share my thoughts here.

September 17, 2012

Games, Games, Games!

Lots of little bits to share today so let's get started.

One of my favorite card games apparently has a new lease on life! Warlord: Saga of the Storm has been picked up by another developer and will continue. I think this is the third or even fourth incarnation of the game. If you haven't played it I highly recommend picking up a few of the available decks and giving it a go. I'm not sure what the change of hands means to the existing US web store (but I intend to find out as I still have credit there).

Click here to see info about the new developer/publisher/whatever.

In all the miniature stuff I've looked at in the past few months, it never occurred to me to look into a wild west-style skirmish game. That is until I saw some recommendations for a game called Blackwater Gulch. I've only just skimmed through the rules, but it looks quick and easy to play, and best of all the rules are totally free. They can be downloaded on their website and I suggest taking a look at some of their cool looking figure bundles.

Bushido has released new cards and updated rules for their game too. These look streamlined a fair bit from the last edition of the game, but I haven't had a chance to try either one of them yet. You'll need some models for proxies, but the rules and cards for the units are all up for grabs for free here. I love the flavour of this game universe so far, and the game is on my list to try out soon.

Let's see, what else...? Oh yeah, I'll be playing a trial game of Pulp City tonight now that I have enough figures painted up for a game. It'll just be a test to see if I can figure out the action points and combat rules but I'll post my thoughts up here when I have a chance. Also, Pulp Monsters have finally updated their website and it looks pretty good. I haven't dug around it much myself so I can't tell you what they've changed. The biggest upcoming change I've heard so far is that there will be rules for creating your own Supremes, but that's just a rumor so far. Go have a look at the new Pulp City website!

After that I think I'll be focusing on getting some of my starter set figures for Empire of the Dead and Hell Dorado painted up. I've been salivating over the thought of playing those games for a while now.

Mantic Games' Dreadball Kickstarter is still building up momentum. They've opened up three of the four season 2 teams and likely won't end there. With almost two weeks left I imagine they'll hit at least part of the season 3 plans...which I think is Dreadball Extreme. Sounds pretty interesting, I just wish I could get my models sooner so that I can actually play a game or six!

Oh and finally some board games. Yesterday William and I sat down to play some games, both with tons of funny dice in them. The first one was Quarriors. I didn't really like this game the first time I tried it, but I think it's grown on me. It's a quick, fun little game where the dice you acquire serve as monsters, spells and money! Lots of colourful pieces, fun artwork and fast play. Plus I won...that almost never happens, so of course I like the game now.

The other game we played is sort of a re-do of an older game. Tomb: Cryptmaster is a thematic quest game that has players recruiting party members at the local inn, in order to go raid crypts in the tomb for treasure.  It also has to have some of the weirdest custom dice I've ever see...various colours of d10s, with only blank face or axes on them! The rule book stinks, but the game is actually a lot of fun and I'd like to play it again soon. That's not something I would usually say about a dungeon crawl kind of game, so it must be good.

Until next time, may all your dice rolls Spells? Quiddity? Whatever. Stop reading this and go do something useful!

Two More Supers Join the Fray

I finally finished the two figures on my painting table. They'd both been sitting at near-complete for over a week and I just never got a chance to sit down and finished them off. The first figure is a converted Heroclix Wendigo that I'm going to be using as an alternate form for my figure Snowbird.

As far as conversions go this was an easy one. Swap from the clix base over to a 40mm round base, which I added some sand and rocks to. The paint work on the Wendigo was quite good to begin with. I used a quick wash of the Army Painter Strong Tone and followed that up with a dry brushed coat of pure white. I would have preferred a grey wash with a slightly blue tint, but honestly...I'm not sure how to make one. I didn't want to be up all night experimenting with mixing something up, so I went the easy route.

I've got SuperSystem statistic sheets made up for both figures and am looking forward to trying her abilities out in a game. I've already tried using Sasquatch and Guardian so I think the next battle will be a bigger match where I'll field Snowbird, Puck and Shaman. That should be a lot of fun!

Second up is another figure from the Pulp City heroes starter box: Iron Train. Before painting this figure I did some looking around online to find out what kind of colours were used on Canadian steam engines. Black was most definitely the primary colour, along with red. The black isn't actually black, but a mix of metallic, black and a touch of blue that doesn't really show through.

 I ended up choosing gold as the third main colour, and in retrospect I think it turnout out a little too ostentatious. Not quite what I'd had in mind. The red is Citadel Red Gore and the gold is Citadel Shining gold. Perhaps a less brilliant gold, or maybe even just a silver / metal colour instead might have been more to my liking. I did try to add a little depth to the whole thing with a light coat of Strong Tone ink, which helped a little bit.

He still looks pretty good though I think and now that I have two figures each from the villains and heroes boxes I can give the rules a test run. I think I'll have a little time this evening to go through a quick battle and see if I can sort the Pulp City rules in my head. Should be fun!

September 16, 2012

Pumped Up For DreadBall!

It would seem that I'm a total sucker when it comes to new games these days, especially when they have little plastic people/monsters involved. The latest (although in this case, not-yet-released) one that I've been following with high interest is Mantic Games' DreadBall.

Upon seeing the initial teasers and game explanation floated around I, like almost everyone else out there, thought it just looked like a futuristic version of Blood Bowl. Now, I have never played Blood Bowl, nor do I have any interest in it whatsoever. I know it's got a huge cult following and has been around for a long time, but it looks way too fiddly and complicated for my tastes. Granted, I've only seen a few games played at my local shop and I have no idea what the rules are like or anything else. Nonetheless, I'm simply not interested.

Then back to DreadBall, and why am I interested in this if it's just a Blood Bowl clone? When Mantic announced their Kickstarter campaign (something I sort of have a love-hate relationship with), it looked intriguing because the models were nice, and the game's logo and board had a nice, shiny, streamlined futuristic look to them. Still under the impression that it was futuristic BB...I waited.

A lot of people were thinking like me, so they started asking questions about the rules, cards, dice, teams and all that kind of stuff. Eventually Mantic dropped a nice little PDF on the internet showing how a single "Rush" worked. (A rush is one player's turn. The game lasts a total of fourteen rushes, seven per player.) A brief gameplay video followed shortly after and I decided that it looked pretty cool. And the models, well, they're damned spiffy looking I have to say!

So I pledged for Striker.

Then I told some other folks about it. Namely, Chris and Seb down at Trilogy... Chris is a huge Blood Bowl fan and immediately became giddy when Seb relayed that I thought he'd like DreadBall. As soon as Mantic announced that they'd have support for shops that wanted to run leagues I forwarded that over to him and he was on it like a fat kid on a box of jelly donuts. Turns out over a half-dozen of the current Blood Bowl players there are also getting in on the Kickstarter...and thus it looks like we'll be running a DreadBall league in short order.

I am really hoping that the game is as fast and fun as it looks...because a lot of people are investing some sizable money into it. At least I am relatively assured of having some opponents to play games with right away, which is always one of the biggest gambles with miniature games of any sort.

A preview of the rulebook was dropped on Friday, and so far I still think the game sounds fun. Let's just hope it actually is when it finally arrives sometime around Christmas.

September 14, 2012

Field Report: SA-120813-F

Friday, Sept 14th - 1922

ATTN: Director Silver
RE: Civilian death incurred during Threshold operation SA-120913-F


While investigating the disappearance of several paleontologists on a dig near Drumheller, Alta we encountered several cult members attempting to gain control of a rampaging fishman. The two newest agents who joined us after the unfortunate deaths of Trisha Kellington and Arthur Hendry fought well, and we were able to kill the creature.

The cultists seemed to go into a maniacal frenzy after the loss of the fiend and we were forced to retreat. I was able to keep our activities quiet, but I've enclosed an excerpt from the "Drumheller Mail" that appeared this morning.

Carl Selinger


Man Found Dead After Vicious Animal Attack

The body of a man was found near an excavation site early this morning by representatives from the Tyrell Museum. Police have identified the corpse as that belonging to a Calgary man named James Forester, Jr.

Two days ago police were called to the site to investigate the disappearance of the team conducting the dig where a large fossilized tyrannosaur skeleton had been discovered. It was originally thought that there might be foul play involved, but with the discovery of Forester's body that has been ruled out.

The corpse was found severely mauled around the back and neck, as though from a very large predator, possibly a wolf. Fetid black fluid was found in the wounds and surrounding the body, but police investigators report that it may simply be the by-product of small organisms feeding on the dead flesh.

Photos were not made available by police due to their grisly nature.

Mr. Forester had no surviving immediate family. None of his acquaintances had seen him for several months, and how he came to be at the dig site still remains a mystery. A memorial service will be held next week following the cremation of the remains.

September 13, 2012

A Spot of Fiction: Part 3

Outside, the two searching figures slowly return to the main building. As they approach the light from their flashlights reflects off of the building and their shapes resolve. They're wearing simple, nondescript military style uniforms and armed with automatic weapons. One of them snarls at the other, "There's nothing out here except coyotes, dirt and wind. Besides, if I were in charge I'd have come out here and checked it out myself!"

"Yeah right! If you were in charge we'd all be dead already Carlson. That door was rusted shut, I'd bet money on it. Ain't no coyote cracking it open like that," says the second guard. They pause outside the door and turn off the flashlights and he digs a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket.

Lighting up a cigarette he offers the pack to his companion. "So if it ain't a coyote what the hell was it? Nothing around here for miles!"

"I don't know Staves, but I'm not taking that bet."

"There's not enough wind to throw that door open, even if it wasn't rusted shut. Someone else is out here, but I'm not risking my butt to find out where they went."

Carlson takes a long pull from his cigarette and stamps it out on the ground. "Come on, let's get back inside before all the grub is gone."

Staves looks around the blackened compound. "I dunno man, just doesn't seem right," he mutters while closing the door. "Who'd want to be out here unless they had to be anyway?"


After more struggling than I'd expected I finally work my way through the window. Collapsing on the floor I huff a little and try to slow down my breathing. Seems I'm a little out of shape here. Maybe I held down a desk or something before waking up outside. I'm obviously no Olympian.

I feel around the window frame and encounter a heavy roll-down blind at the top. Gritting my teeth against the possibility of making more noise I start pulling on it slowly to see if I can get it to roll down so I can cover the window. It sounds a little crunchy as it extends, but after a little work I finally get it down far enough that I feel safe enough to try the lighter.

Digging the lighter out of my bag I flick it a few times, only now realizing I have no idea if it even works. On the third try I'm met with a happy little flame though and I'm able to peer around the room. Looks like it might have been a filing room of some kind. There are several head height cabinets in here, which I quickly and quietly have a look in.

"All empty. Whatever information they were storing in here's all gone now."

I turn to the empty wall opposite the cabinets and find a single door there. Not an industrial door, just a light wooden door you'd find in a used car sales office or something. My thumb is starting to get hot from holding the lighter so I let it go out and wait a moment for my eyes to adjust before trying the door.

Yes! Finally a door that isn't locked. Although on second thought maybe that's not such a great thing. I have no idea what could be behind here. No help for it though, I really don't have anywhere else to go and slide-step through.

I was sort of expecting a hallway, but judging by the sound of my footsteps I think I'm in another room, slightly larger than the file room. Taking another chance I decide to flick the lighter again and look around a bit. Besides, if any one is in here they likely heard my graceless thud as I toppled through the window.

The room is almost completely filled with old office furniture. Desks, chairs, lamps and other useless looking stuff stacked in haphazard piles. It's all covered with dust and looks like it's been in here a while.

I spot a telephone on a desk to my left and work my way over to it through the mess. I pick it up and hold the handset to my ear. Nothing; no dial tone, no lit up buttons, just more silence and more blackness. "Shit, of course that would have been too easy. A working phone would obviously be too much to ask for around here I guess."

At this point I'm a little stuck for ideas. No phone. No idea where I am. No idea who I am or what I'm even doing here in the first place. I'm obviously here for a reason, but what is that reason? Nothing's really coming to me and I can feel myself starting to panic again.

"OK chill out a minute," I say to myself as I settle cross-legged onto the dusty floor. "So far no one knows you're here, at least not that you're aware of." I take a deep breath. "That gives you an advantage. So just find a way out of here and worry about putting the puzzle together later."

I gasp and sit bolt upright. "Wait wait wait! If this is my phone what about...?" I can't believe I didn't think about checking in them before! Plunging my hands deep into the pockets of my jacket I pull out a charger cable. It looks like it should fit my phone! "Yes, now I just need to see if I can get some power into this thing."

On the wall directly in front of me I spot the glint of a metal outlet cover and crawl over to it. "Come on baby, gimme some juice please!" I plug the phone into the charger cable and then hurriedly jam the other end into the socket. Chewing on my lip impatiently I wait a few seconds before thumbing the power button again. My face is bathed in the cold, white digital light of the phone as it powers on. I slump against the wall and let the lighter go out while I wait for my lifeline to finish booting up.


Staves closes, locks the door and turns around. "Carlson? What happened to the lights man? It's darker in here than it is outside." He reaches down to his belt and grabs his flashlight raising it up to switch it on.

Suddenly a cold piercing bite hammers into his chest and he stumbles back against the door. The chill quickly turns to a spreading warmth. "Shit what was that? Agggh. Carlson? I'm hurt man, something just hit me!" he stutters, slumping onto his side and clutching his chest.

Staves tries to roll onto his knees to stand up, but can't. He grunts and tries again, crying out in pain as a heavy pressure strikes his back and rapidly increases. Something is forcing him back down to the floor and his arms give out under the weight.

Lying on his front, a hot pool of his own blood begins collecting around his cheek. He coughs and spits as the coppery syrup flows into his mouth and nose. A bright flare of light appears and immediately dims, framing a face in the dark. Staves smells cigarette smoke. Not his brand...Carlson's.

A floating red ember brightens and Carlson exhales smoke directly into Stave's face. "Well friend. You were right about one thing. If I was in charge, you would be dead. Let's just consider this my way of saving a little time."

The blood around his face is thick and cloying. He tries again to get onto his hands and knees but can't lift himself up through the haze of smoke. His arms and legs feel like frozen lead and even the darkness seems to be turning gray. "You...I thought we were friends," Staves gasps.

Carlson's voice recedes to the darkness. "We are man, we are. Trust me, it's far better for you this way."

Staves shudders as his final breath leaves his body in a dry rattle. Wide, betrayed eyes stare out, seeing nothing now. The spreading black pool of blood slows, then finally ceases as it turns sticky, thick and cold.

September 12, 2012

A Spot of Fiction: Part 2

I creep through the darkness, feeling my way along the wall of the building until I reach the corner. A sliver of a moon shines wanly above in an otherwise empty sky. The light it gives is just enough to make out the shapes of other buildings against the horizon. Thick black against an even thicker black.

I'm walking almost blind here. It's going to be hell trying to move around in near pitch. I can't figure out how to light my way without giving up my location so I squint hard into the inky night and will my eyes to adjust. Thinking back to when I awoke in the grass, I vaguely recall the layout of the complex. There was a small shed on this end of the building and I think it's almost directly ahead of me. With no other viable options I might as well go for it.

Pushing myself away from the cooling wall of the building I start to cross the void, moving in the remembered direction of the shed. After what seems like forever my outstretched hands make contact with the corrugated metal surface of my sanctuary. I let my breath out in a rush and gasp for air. I didn't realize I'd been holding my breath the entire way across!

The handle turns easily in my hand and I gently, slowly ease the shed door open. Just before I make enough space for myself to slip through the gap the door sticks. I swear under my breath and give it a little push. The door doesn't move any further and I can't quite squeeze myself through the opening. A nervous sweat breaks out and chills the skin on my back. I push again, harder.

The rusted hinges shriek in protest as the door opens fully, slamming against the opposite wall like booming thunder!

"Fuck fuck fuck!" I hiss through my teeth. I look back at the building and see movement in the upper windows. More lights flaring to life, seeming far brighter than they did earlier. Flash, flash, flash, flash, the windows light up in progression, as though in response someone traveling through the building. And heading in the direction of the ground floor entrance!

Abandoning the idea of hiding in the shed I sprint through the darkness towards the structure on the far side of the compound. I hope the noise from the shed has caught their attention fully enough to provide me with a distraction and give enough time to make it there.

Halfway across the open sea of night I'm feeling lucky not to have crashed into any of the detritus on the ground. I instantly freeze in place as the door of the first building thunders open and two figures exit. Brilliant beams of light from flashlights in their hands slice through the lightless murk.

Frozen in mid-step, I stand there praying that they don't swing their lights toward me but they don't and head directly toward the little shed instead. I listen intently but can't make out anything distinct, although if I had to guess I'd say the conversation was a terse argument between the two. I decide that now's my chance to complete my escape. Yeah right, escape. Another building with unknown contents or occupants. Freedom at last...

Telling my irony-laced inner voice to shut it I hastily get moving again and make it over to the opposite building. I pat my way carefully along the outer wall and trace the bottom shape of a window with my fingers but continue moving until I can make out a door. Examining it more by touch than sight I can tell that there is a sign on the front of it and a window in the top half of the door.

I try in vain to see through the window but the glass and darkness make it impossible to see anything. I can't even see my reflection on the dirty glass, but I decide to try my luck anyway. Slowly applying pressure to the thumb latch I meet immediate resistance. Motherf...this door's locked too.

What the hell could be so damned important around this place that you'd need to lock up a half-destroyed building!?

I feel my way along the wall again, continuing away from the shed and being extremely careful not to make any further noise. I look back in the direction of the shed hoping to see whether the searching figures have started back this way, but the thick veil of night has swallowed them whole. Nice, now that's a disturbing thought. Best get a move on before they make it back this way.

Rounding the corner I encounter more debris and end up almost crawling on all fours to avoid falling down and drawing more attention to myself. My search for another door goes unrewarded. At the far end however I have a stroke of luck and find a window. It's large enough for me to fit through and I try pushing it up just a little. It slides up easily enough so I decide to take my chances and climb inside the building. Into the breach we go...

While I'm wriggling through the window a brief flash of light from the returning guards catches on the sign of the locked building. WARNING: BIOHAZARD - Danger of Infection. Authorized Personnel Only.

From across the yard, a pair of struggling legs can be seen as they graceless disappear through the window frame of the small building. The mass of watching shadow waits another moment and then turns disinterestedly away.

September 11, 2012

A Spot of Fiction: Part 1

I thought I'd do something completely different and post up a little piece of ongoing fiction I recently started working on. The concept was conceived simply as a creative writing exercise. I don't know much more about the world itself, the characters in it or what's happening any more than you do. The few restrictions I've placed on the work are simple:

1. It takes place on Earth, set in the modern day.
2. Anything can happen.

I started with the simple premise of a man who wakes up alone somewhere. Everything after that just sort of...well we'll see.

Want to come along for the ride?

Part 1
Dazzling sunshine strikes my face as I open my eyes. I'm lying on my back, staring up at a clear blue sky. Tall, golden grass waves in a gentle breeze all around me.

I sit up and look around. I have no obvious injuries that I can see or feel, no blood or anything around me to indicate why I was unconscious at all. Come to think of it, I have no idea how I got... wherever the hell it is I am. Further to that, just who am I anyway?

Oh shit, who am I?! A welling of panic rises in my chest.

Trying to calm down and not freak out entirely I stand up and turn in a full, slow circle to see that I'm outside of some sort of industrial complex. The place has been long out of use and is covered in rust, grime and dust. The outer chain-link fences are in pretty rough shape and debris from some kind of industrial accident is all over the place. Did something explode here, or was there some kind of battle?

There don't seem to be any bodies around, and other than the grass undulating in the wind I can't see any indication of movement. Looks like I'm all alone here.

Walking toward the entrance to the facility I find a fallen sign near what looks to be the entry gate to the complex. Brushing some of the dirt and debris off of it I can read a little bit of it. It says "Myrmi--n ----- Pr--es--ng -aci--ty". There is some smaller text below that, but I can't quite make it out. The sign is too damaged and worn. OK a processing facility of some kind. For what and by whom? "Myrmigon, Myrmidon, Myrmisen..." I muse. Do any of those words sound familiar?

I snap my fingers in instant recognition. "Yes! Myrmidon is the name of a company. Some kind of pharmaceutical company that I was...I was..." I stop talking to myself. I don't remember what I was doing here or if I even was here before now, and standing alone in the middle of nowhere, talking to myself, is even a little more insane than I want to appear at the moment.

I head toward the gatehouse. "I wonder if there's anything useful inside." It's a tiny little cube made of cheap plywood which is barely still standing. The gray and peeling paint on the outside might have been white at some point in its history. Digging around inside the gatehouse I find a small messenger bag hidden under some broken boards. It's covered with a light layer of dust but looks very familiar. Wait, this is my bag isn't it?

Yes, here's an identification card. Most of the text is worn off, as though the card has been carried or handled often, but that's my picture on it and I can make out the name Gregory Markov beside it. Wow that's my name? Why doesn't it sound familiar...and what's this card for?

I look through the rest of the pockets of the bag and discover a bottle of water, a lighter, a deck of playing cards, a wallet empty except for some cash (looks like around $125 or so) and a cellphone. Well, I can keep myself entertained with a few games of solitaire I guess. Flipping the phone over it looks undamaged, so I thumb the power button expectantly.

Nothing happens.

Damn! If the phone had some power and I could get a signal, I could have loaded up a map or a GPS location and tried to find out where the hell I am. Shouldering the bag I look around and realize that dusk is quickly approaching. I must have been sitting here for longer than I'd thought! I better find a place to hole up for the night, or at least get out of sight. A quick look inside the gate and...

"Ah there!" There's a two-story building just inside the fence that looks like it is still largely intact so I make my way through the rubble around the gatehouse. The compound is eerily silent and seems entirely deserted. I approach the building warily, and wonder to myself why I'm being so bloody cautious.

"Stupid son of a...," I grumble out loud. "You don't know how long you were lying there in the grass, or how you even got here in the first place! Can't hurt to be a little cautious." I cough out a nervous little laugh, slightly embarrassed that I'm talking out loud again. Apparently I have a bad habit of talking to myself, great.

There is a single, heavy steel door on the near side of the building. Excellent, that looks like a way in. I look up and down the outer wall of the building, checking for windows or movement inside. "Whoa shit!" I hiss to myself as a dim light flares to life in a second floor window. There's someone or something inside this place!

In a full crouch against the side of the building I look around to see if I can find another structure where I might be able to hide before it's fully night. I don't want to risk running around in that place without knowing whether the owner of that little light is friendly or not. And I'm sure as hell not wandering around a not-completely-abandoned building in the dark!

Casting my gaze around the complex I spot another building but it's well on the other side of the square marked off by the sagging perimeter fences. If there's someone watching from that window, or any of the others windows for that matter, there's no way I'll make it over there without being spotted.

"Well," I mutter to myself, "let's see what else I can find." I edge toward the far end of the building as darkness falls completely, covering my world in a thick velvet shroud of black.

September 10, 2012

Snowbird & the Gentleman

I finished up a few more figures. The first one is a Heroclix conversion that I'll be using for games of SuperSystem: Snowbird.

Obviously I re-based the figure onto a custom 30mm round base. The rest of the work was simple. I used an Asurmen Blue wash on all of the white and blue parts of her uniform and cape. Afterwards I applied a Gryphonne Sepia wash to her hair and face, and then finally painted a few view thin coats of white over her body suit to give her a nice smooth finish.

The figure I'm planning to use for her alternate form is in progress. I'm hoping to have it finished tomorrow.

My next completed piece is one of the figures from the villains starter box for Pulp City: the Gentleman.

The paint on this figure was pretty simple. I used blue, red, black, metal and flesh from my Army Painter starter box. I used a light citadel grey for the suit. Once I had my base coat applied I covered the whole figure in Strong Tone ink...and was promptly disappointed. While the strong tone looked good on the skin and metals, it looked terrible on the grey suit. So, I fired up my brush and started over. After I repainted the grey I decided I liked it looking clean and fresh. A fellow who calls himself "The Gentleman" should have a nice suit.

Mythic DC Adventures

Yesterday afternoon a few people dropped by to try out a role-playing session. It's been at least six months or longer since we played any RPGs. That would have been a session of Savage Worlds using a modern horror one-sheet adventure. We didn't finish the adventure, but it seemed to go well.

The biggest issue with playing a role-playing game is that someone needs to be the game master. Invariably that would be me. However on this occasion Collin had something we were going to try; the Mythic RPG game master emulator. We were going to try using the emulator to play without a GM, and decided to use the new DC Adventures (based on Mutants and Masterminds) to play it.

We had four players and used pre-made character sheets for Green Arrow, Nightwing, Mister Miracle and John Constantine. As the adventure played out we ran into mystical barriers, shape shifting cultists, Barbara Gordon and were successful in stopping a nefarious plot at the Gotham Museum of Modern Art.

After some investigation we happened upon a dark ritual being overseen by Glorious Godfrey; these agents of Apokalypse were attempting to open a portal to their master's domain. What their plans were beyond the opening were undiscovered. With Nightwing and Green Arrow distracting the cultists Mister Miracle and John Constantine attempted to stop the portal from opening. Miracle's attempts proved fruitless, so Constantine surprised them all and...stepped through.

A blaze of light closed around him and the portal disappeared, John Constantine along with it.

The adventure we played didn't end up using much in the way of the character stats or DC Adventures game engine. A few pieces of equipment off the character sheets and a couple of skill checks were all we really needed in order to play it out. I was really impressed with how well the Mythic system worked to shape the adventure and throw in some twists. It worked REALLY well.

If you have a group with an overworked GM that would like to play a game or two, or maybe just some tools that would help them streamline their game mastering I highly recommend Mythic. This session was the first time I was able to actually play in a game and it was a lot of fun.

Next time I'd like to try using Savage Worlds as the game system, but I will most assuredly be using Mythic for any of my future RPG play. I can finally take part in the adventures and not be stuck running games for everyone else.

September 07, 2012

Well...That Sucked

So yesterday I made it to the game shop a little early. Usually I'm not able to get there until 6:30, but I arrived a full half hour earlier than that. I grabbed one of the boards for Strange Aeons, some terrain and took possession of a table. The other regular Strange Aeons player was there and had his figures. Things were looking pretty good.

Digging into my bag I found that my regular dice tin had been forgotten at home. Not really a big deal, as I had a few others in my box of tokens. I'm not one that subscribes to any kind of luck being inherent in little plastic cubes; the games would go on. Worst case scenario I could have used Brandon's for the game.

Not too long ago I picked up a Chessex medium sized figure case because the number of figures I have for Strange Aeons had outgrown the smaller box I was using. I hadn't been in love with the new case, but now I have decided I dislike it quite a bit. The hole cuts for the figures are actually too big, so they roll around unless you put two figures in each spot. That wasn't really the problem though...upon opening the case I found clear proof that the trays aren't quite deep enough: both of my tommy gun cultist figures had extremely bent barrels, one of which is actually cracked and will likely break off it any further pressure is applied to it. Not exactly awesome.

Anyway, on to the games. Brandon had put together a new list after his old one disbanded. We rolled up the scenario and got Monster Attack. Hm...I would only be able to use one model, and only had 15 points to use. I didn't have a figure that would work as a formless thing, so I decided to use a high priest and hope that I could roll some good stuff on the evil spell table. This actually happened and I ended up with Eldritch Barrier, Touch of Death and Time Shift. That combination could actually prove to be pretty deadly if I could pull them all off.

My high priest was faced off against 4 agents so it would probably be an uphill climb, but with the spells and a 2+ resolve I thought I might have a chance. With a little time before the agents were in firing range I decided to try casting my Eldritch Barrier (granting a 4+ save on all wounds) first. I rolled a....ONE. Bye bye spell; the best one I had. Things pretty much followed that pattern from there. I did score a single death touch on one of the agents, but she survived with some kind of minor phobia.

Second game was my turn to play Threshold. I had my newly recruited agent and got lucky rolling a simple Fight! scenario. We decided to use one of the options and the Lurkers ended up spread all over the place with Random Deployment. Pretty good news for me as the cult leader was all by himself near my chosen board edge.

I ran my lonely civilian up as cannon fodder while I moved the agents into position. When James moved in to start close combat his phobia kicked in, he panicked and ran straight off the table edge. After two rounds of almost universally awful shooting my agents were able to take down the cult leader without suffering any injury. With the remaining cultists spread all over the board it looked like a simple mopping up exercise after that.

Even though I was trying to keep my agents away from the cleaver-wielding psychopaths Trisha Kellington wasn't fast enough and fell with a major injury. The rest of the team avenged her death and focused on the final cultist. Long story short, that lone cultist took down ALL THREE of my agents all by himself.

It was probably the most frustrating rolling of the dice I've experienced in a long time. When I rolled to shoot I very rarely hit anything, and when I hit the roll to wound was almost universally a 2. When close combat came around the parry on the cleaver would turn my 5s and 6s into a 2 or 3. Maddening to say the least.

In the post game sequence I ended up with my lieutenant suffering a leg injury, Arthur rolling up a simple DEAD result, and Trisha the new recruit rolling multiple injuries...the first roll of which was...DEAD. Plainly put, I got fucked six ways from Sunday. I don't have the time to paint up two new agent models right now among all the other stuff I'm working on, so when I re-equip my list those two models will be returning. I doubt I'll even bother to rename them at this point...which is probably not exactly in the best spirit of the game, but whatever.

Oh yeah, and yesterday I sliced up my finger really nicely while I was working on something with the hobby knife. F-in' awesome.

I'm taking a break for a few days before I roll some dice, and somehow one of them jumps into my mouth, lodges in my throat and I choke and die on it. Better safe than sorry they say.

September 04, 2012

40k Sixth Edition Starter Box: Dark Vengeance

Well, even though I can't really afford it, I splurged out the $135 (including taxes) for the new sixth edition limited version starter box for Warhammer 40,000: Dark Vengeance. As to why it's called that, I don't really know. I haven't read through all the paperwork in the box to find out if there is something dark and spooky and...vengeful going on here.

As anyone who has even a passing interest in 40k knows by now, the regular edition starter box comes out next week but Games Workshop released the limited one a week early. What do you get in the limited box that's different? A one-page card stock sheet detailing the stats and construction diagram for a chaplain figure. According to the young fellow at the local Games Workshop, you're getting "a $20 model for only $9!" I'd be inclined to disagree that this is a $20 model, but it is pretty nice, and in reality only set me back $9. On the other hand though, that's about the maximum I'd reckon any plastic 28mm figure is really worth to me.

Across the various pools of darkness that are the hobbyist-infested corners of the internet I've seen a lot of people deriding the quality of the fifth edition starter box (Assault on Black Reach). Personally I think all of those people have been confined to their hobby rooms constructing models and sniffing glue without adequate ventilation. The models from Black Reach were, in my opinion, really great. Easy to assemble, minimal mold lines and great looking once constructed and painted. The contents of the Dark Vengeance box follow suit with that, and in fact are done better, and bigger.

The box is standard GW fare, a little flimsy, but up to the task of holding the contents without sustaining damage. There are four sprues included, as well as the bonus Chaplain. There are two quick reference sheets (one on heavy card, the other on regular paper), a book of instructions for putting the models together, a learn-to-play booklet, a set of blast templates, two measuring sticks, some dice, and the mini rule book.

After looking over all the components I decided to start on the Dark Angel models first. Most of these are three to five pieces, even the bikes. While I'm not sure how I'll be integrating these models into my Obsidian Fist army, I will say that they are great looking figures. The Dark Angel iconography is pretty heavy but every single model looks good. The standout pieces for me here are the librarian and the terminators.

A lot has been made of the preview images for the Chaos figures too, and I will simply say that they are really amazing in terms of details. Some folks will complain a bit that the cultist models, except the leaders, are duplicated but for the record I don't think it really matters here. As long as you don't paint each pair of figures exactly the same and put them in different squads, most folks won't easily notice the duplication. In addition, the figures aren't all that 40k specific so you could easily use them as post-apocalyptic gangers, a Mordheim war band, contemporary cultists or a dozen other things.

The Chaos Chosen models, and the leader model are again, exquisitely detailed. They have nice weight to them and will look truly fabulous when they've been fully painted. I can't wait to add these to my CSM force box and finally get my chaos space marine army taking shape. I've had that other box for almost three years now and really haven't done much with it other than put together a few Khorne Berserkers and the Chaos Rhino.

And finally the Hellbrute model. This thing is SICK. I think it's five or six pieces in total, and looks amazing. I couldn't believe how cool it looked when I put it all together. I glued this guy all together barring the final piece of armor, which I snapped on simply to see how it looked. Now though I think it's stuck there. I tried prying it off (which will make it easier to paint), but didn't have much luck. I'd rather leave it there and have a harder time painting it than forcing it off and busting something along the way.

I have no idea when I'm going to finish gluing and get to painting these guys, but I'm excited at the prospect of doing so. The space marine stuff from my Black Reach set should probably take precedence. There are only a few left from that to do, which will give me a nicely rounded 1000pt list. I'll start adding these pieces to that list after I've had a chance to run through the new rules with my existing army.

Now if only I had a friend that played 40k to game with...

Pulp City Invades!

I little while back I stumbled onto a post on LAF; a user there was looking to get rid of his entire collection of Pulp City models for a very good price. I'd had Pulp City on my radar for a while, and eagerly jumped on the offer. We quickly struck a deal and I impatiently awaited the arrival of a huge box of new toys. A big thanks to Nate for hooking me up with all the awesome stuff below. The character cards and some assembled figures are that were also in the box are not shown.

I went through all the boxes and sorted out the cards, which were already sleeved. After going through this massive pile I realized with some disappointment that there were almost a dozen figures missing. However, Nate did a double-check and found them hiding away in a closet. They've been sent in the mail and I'm trying to be patient while I await their arrival as well. Once they get here I think there are less than 10 figures from the entire Pulp City line that I'm missing; some of which are exclusives that I'll probably not bother trying to obtain. I think it will really depend on whether I can get some of this huge pile of metal painted up and then convince some of my friends to try it out.

Nicely enough the figures from the two starter boxes had already been assembled and primed, so I thought I might as well take advantage of that and dive right in.  While painting up my 40k Dreadnaught I started working on a model from the villains starter, choosing Hellsmith as my first victim, er...I mean test subject! This one was a tri-fold test to: a) try out my new Army Painter WarPaints, b) test out my home-made wet palette, and c) paint a miniature that was white primed instead of black. Here's what I came up with.

The original skin tone turned out really nicely and is a simple 2:1 mix of Barbarian Flesh and Leather Brown. Although I had intended to try painting this figure entirely with my Army Painter WarPaints starter box I decided against it in the end. The flesh, silver and red are all WarPaints while the gold and brown are from the Citadel range. I also used a little Mithril Silver from GW to add a little final highlighting. I used the Army Painter dark tone ink which is really dark. I was unhappy with how dark it was, and the fact that I ended up with too much pooling and making a mess on his back leg. The flesh was really rough looking after applying the ink, so I ended up doing another dry brush coat of pure barbarian flesh, and then covering that with a wash of Citadel Gryphonne Sepia. It was worth trying the Army Painter ink, and led me to pick up the other two inks which I haven't yet tried, but the results aren't quite what I had hoped. I do wish I'd put a little more thought into his base...and it'll always bother me that he turned out so dark.

After holding my little "What Should I Paint Next?" survey on LAF it turned out that the Pulp City Heroes starter box won the I've started on those as well. I may end up painting the villain and starter box in tandem, so that I can try out the rules as more of the figures get painted up. Here's Androida from the heroes box.

This one was a total experiment in colors. I mixed up a batch of white, blue and silver from the Army Painter starter box to use as a base coat. It took me a few tries before I got something I really liked. I continued adding white and silver into the mix until and did a few successive coats over top. Then I marked out her eyes in green and her lips in Citadel Liche Purple. Following suit with Hellsmith, I once again tried the Dark Tone ink, hoping for a better result this time. It did work out quite a bit better with this figure being mechanical in nature. I did another highlight coat after the ink to pick out some of the upper details and that's it.

For the base I tried to imply some high speed movement with the ground and grass sort of parting around her. I don't think I was entirely successful, but it was worth a shot. And if I had the chance to paint her over again, I'd probably have done the eyes a bright red, and picked out some of the mechanical details with some differing colors.

After painting two of these figures I've got a good idea of what to expect from my new paints, and the kind of details found in the sculpts. They really are great looking figures and I suggest folks check them out, even if you're not interested in the game itself.