Monday, April 25, 2011

Spanish Bombs

Hello again, sorry for the long delay between posts, but I recently finished some schooling, so I was more than a little busy for a good month or so.

Since then I have been able to get a little more work done on my Carthaginian army. Playtesting with blank bases has lead me to believe that drilled medium foot are an excellent option if they can be fielded in units with some close combat competence. The drilled Mercenary Scutarii option in the Carthage list seemed to fit that bill well and playtesting produced encouraging results. So during a recent purchase from the lovely folks at 50 Paces I scooped up enough Scutarii to build my lists maximum 12 bases. Once again the quality of Corvus Belli models astounds me, and these have been a pleasure to paint.

I also upgraded my phone to a smart phone and its camera has a macro mode, so I snapped off a couple in progress shots when the light was good to see how things look. It will likely take some practice to get photographing my miniatures dialed but now that I have better equipment I think that will be a fun process.

Here you can see both of the battlegroups stuck on Popsicle sticks a couple of coats in. I intend to paint these chaps up in simple matching tunics. Sure many of these men would have had different coloured tunics, but the going theory seems to be that unbleached linen tunics with red or purple trim where the most common. Since there is a bit of debate as to whether the purple was really purple or rather a scarlet, I figured I would paint one Battlegroup in each.

Friday, March 18, 2011

D&D story arc one complete, thoughts and rants part one.

Recently our group polished off the initial story arc that I had presented as a rather leading option at the onset of the campaign. Not only does that mean these characters are now free to act and travel as they see fit, but it also means that I can blog about aspects of its content without spilling the beans. With that in mind I will be withholding a large amount of the PC aspects of the game itself and the more specific chunks of the narrative. In my mind collective storytelling deserves some privacy and consideration and as such I will instead focus more upon the meat of the Campaign rather than attempt to encapsulate its ongoing narrative.

An obvious concern when starting a new roleplaying group is facilitating the initial meeting of the party. When starting the planning for my current group, I only narrowly avoided overthinking this initial and ultimately almost meaningless fact to grave consequence. As this would be the first paper and dice roleplaying anyone in the group had attempted aside from myself, I would not be DMing for a group that would have any prior knowledge of not just the game itself but also of the setting of the game and how their characters and their PC’s backgrounds would be influenced by those things.

At first I was deluded with far too many overly complex metaDM ideas that pulled the players and plot by the nose thusly avoiding the initial and (apparently) cliché meeting in a Tavern. As someone who has been playing this marvellous game since late childhood I have only recently come to a rather levelling realisation about gaming that not only shocked me but also laid bare the main factors in my choosing the two games I currently enjoy (D&D 3.5 and Field of Glory) and my lack of enthusiasm for the formers recent update(s), and my waning interest in 40k.

Many games particularly some that have recently received updates (ahem), are heavily geared towards enticing the new gamer. The games are both easy to learn and easy to master, without too much depth or complexity to seem overwhelming. Although this makes perfect sense to your average executive selling a game it makes almost none to someone playing it. When viewed from within the perspective of the gamer, one would only spend a small and shrinking amount of time learning the game. If a rulebook or (gasp) rule system where to be engineered more for the new gamer than the gamer that is currently playing the game it would completely miss it’s basic function.

These games are little more than a wondrously constructed and mutually consented to set of physics and random circumstance and the rulebooks they are contained within should serve primarily as a resource to reference for clarity during the game. Lovely introductory fluff and simple game mechanics are no substitute for a good index and enough depth of thought to the rules to allow flex when flaws are encountered.

Keeping that in mind I thought it would be more beneficial to the long-term group dynamic if I kept 3 things in mind during the initial gaming sessions of this group.

· Some fancy pants crackpot scheme to avoid Pub themed clichés would likely cause long term damage to the PCs development both as a party and as individual gamers.

· Even if the PCs met in a bar, they would be clamouring to think of reasons to justifying their presence and limitless background potential would be squandered on a gimmick rather than occur organically through PC thought and interaction.

· Balance must be maintained between providing subtle plot nudges to motivate the PCs and allowing enough room for them to play and grow.

With that in mind I thought a good way to do that would be to provide a setting and a situation and simply see how the players reacted within them. It would be up to them to slowly start to piece together their characters backgrounds and later decide what it was that drove them to Guildton in the first place.

As no one had played D&D other than me, I was given a pretty loose rein. Given my library and previous knowledge I decided to start the Campaign in Faerun, and since my idea for a plot required a significant amount of isolation I thought the Galena mountain range in balmy and scenic Damara would do just fine. I then cobbled together a small hill fort hanging from its fingernails to a small yet deep harbour on the Northeast shore of the Moonsea. Founded by the Starlight Guild (chartered and headquartered in Melvaunt) just shy of 2 years ago with the intent to prospect, process and ship iron Guildton is the kind of grimy roughneck boomtown that makes frontier justice seem restrained. Populated almost entirely by guild employees and independent prospectors, the 200 or so souls that make up Guildton’s population are cut from a similar unskilled and likely desperate cloth. With such a small and focused population the only opportunities offered within Guildton are steady employment and appalling working conditions. Thankfully our erstwhile PCs where only present long enough to be offered a job by a senior Guild representative to recon a ruined tower that has recently received the tender repairs of what appears to be orcs.

Although brief and rushed to accommodate a poor time estimate in character generation, in hindsight it actually allowed for enough open ends to facilitate later character development and was enough of a nudge (ok bullrush) to get things down to the dice and choices that make up the game in decent enough time. One disappointing non-result on a random encounter table/day’s trek and they were concealed on a ridgeline reconnoitring a group of orcs who exhibit uncharacteristic discipline and craftsmanship.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Horrors of cautious gaming

Last summer a buddy of mine and me hid out at his cabin in the Mountains of central British Columbia for a weekend, in between hiking and making unhealthy meal choices we got in a game of checkers. Neither of us were sure when we had last played checkers, with him even pondering if he ever had. But since I had played untold numbers of Axis and Allies, Risk and Battletech games against him in our youth I knew I was in for a good scrap.

I could not have been more right, the game ended within about 10 turns with an impassable stalemate and neither of us losing nor taking a piece. Still not sure what to make of that game, but I finally got some photographic proof.

For the record I was black and he was red.
Anyone ever have this happen to them before?

Thankfully this sort of thing doesn't happen in miniature wargaming, and never could in D&D as every group I have ever played in had zero problem finding people/critters/chiefdoms to stab, blast and or loot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blatant product placement or product review rating scheme?

Recently my trusty old craft knife crapped out on me, it is an often used and little mentioned hobby tool and as such a replacement was definitely in order. While out foraging for sustenance with Ella, I took the opportunity to duck into a local model Railway shop. Looking through their racks of exquisite hobby tools, I came across a knife that really caught my eye.

Being a tradesman who was raised by a tradesman I have a huge appreciation for quality tools, and a defining mark of such tools is depth of thought in design. One of the failings of my previous knife was the placement of the threads to haft the blade at the spot where it meets the handle. Although initially this design seems perfectly logical, during use the slight variations of force applied by the fingers fall directly upon the haft and slowly loosen the threads. Not only is this frustrating, I can see it becoming dangerous. I already have enough scars on my hands from work I don't need them from my leisure, skateboarding and road hockey aside.

Oddly enough one of the best priced knives was designed with this in mind. The threads that tighten the blade are (likely via Gond's will or some type of threaded shaft) accessed at the aft end of the handle. Glorious.

It comes with quite the little quiver of blades too. Curved, point, offset (for scoring, which is on the task list) and a saw blade, which I might take fishing.

And the best part?

$6 Canadian.

That's value.

Zona Soft Grip Knife Set, you get my first 5 out of a possible 5 on a 5sided die. Comfy, solid, good leverage, scandalous price, multiple blade options and a sturdy vial to house them, I am more than impressed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guest Post

A good buddy of mine is a Canadian ex patriot living in Japan right now and since we gamed together for years a good chunk of our emailed correspondence is Nerd related, the rest is.... well Hockey. Recently he came up with something hilarious so we figured we should post it here. Enjoy.

Pies Iesu domine, dona eis requiem . . . Whack!
In a recent side conversation Mr. Misanthropy and I have been
discussing that other obsession that all us gamers share
(aside from nerding it up). You know it, Mr. Misanthropy knows it, I
know it, and Rich Burlew knows it well (Oots#136 It's Not a Gaming
Session Until Someone Quotes Monty Python). We can all do the
Constitutional Peasant in our sleep or maybe that`s just me.

But have you ever really thought, how well would the Pythons do in a
gaming environment? I think the answer is not very well. Those pasty
Cambridge boys would be chopped into bait faster than you can say Fish
Slapping Dance. But one of their immortal creations would easily
survive and terrorize even the most hardened group of gamers.

So here, for your enjoyment and edification is the Fiendish Vorpal Bunny:

Fiendish Vorpal Bunny
Tiny Magical Beast

Hit Dice: 4D10-4 (18)
Initiative: +5
Speed: 30ft
AC: 18(dexterity, dodge, tiny size)/ touch 18/ flatfooted 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +9/-5
Attack: Bite 1d4-3 (15-20)
Space/Reach: 0/0 ft
Special Attacks: Keen Vorpal Bite, Pounce
Special Qualities:
Damage reduction 10/fire, Low-light vision
- Fortitude: +2
- Reflex: +8
- Will: +1
- Strength: 3
- Dexterity: 20
- Constitution: 8
- Intelligence: 3
- Wisdom: 10
- Charisma: 3
Skills: Jump +8, Tumble +8
Feats: Weapon Finesse (Bite), Dodge, Mobility
Environment: Cave of Caer-Banog or cold mountains
Organization: Single
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: Rare collectors copy of Monty Python Shooting script
Alignment: Always Neutral

In Combat:
Keen Vorpal Bite: The Fiendish Vorpal Bunny bite is its deadliest
attack. On a successful critical, the bunny`s bite decapitates its
victim with no save possible.
Pounce: On a charge the Fiendish Vorpal Bunny can make two attacks
instead of one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Love Ellas camera you can actually see the eye patch. That ballast is dry tomorrow and is getting the rocks and the grass it needs to finish them entirely. Then it's on the the Gauls. Somewhat intimidated.

New Command Pics

Ella swung by this weekend and snapped some shots of the nearly completed HQ bases. Sure they still need wee rocks and static grass, but the hard part (painting) is done so I am more than happy. Got a good game in with the D&D group too, likely be blogging about that later this week.

These first two shots are of Maharbal/Subordinate Commander #2.