Friday, November 29, 2019

2) The Night Witches and Their Friends

You get a very nice and well-equipped Red Army scout platoon with this deal

Moscow has added a T-34/85 and an Su-100;
the platoon has 'aquired' a GAZ-A, a -AA, and a staff car.

 There's a company in the UK by the name of Bad Squiddo, formerly known as Anne The Dice Bag Lady. Anne sells a line of Sensibly Dressed Women, from all sorts of genres and eras, and we recently got in her Amazons from the recent Kickstarter. (These are great for Tekumel - more about them shortly.)

I happen to own a couple of of 1:43 scale Soviet-era toys; a T-34/85 and an Su-100. The Lady of the House, feeling that the two armored vehicles needed some infantry support, bought me the 'Urragh! Deal' and so I have been basing and painting some Red Army women. You get scouts, snipers, infantry, and some heavy weapons - I pointed out to Herself that they couldn't all be 'tankriders', so she got busy and we now have a couple of GAZ trucks and a staff car to haul everyone around.

One of the ringleaders of the Shieldmaidens is working on doing a campaign using the 'Night Witches' RPG, and so we've been looking at biplanes and MacGuffins for the S&S game. So far, the Russians are out to rescue a downed Night Witches air crew, and to investigate that suspicious Vokswagen staff car down in the village. (The D&D side also has two MacGuffins, but I have to have some secrets ahead of this game...)

I'm supplying all of the terrain and scenery out of stock - yes I do have that much stuff in hand - and this is turning into one of those epic games along the lines of my infamous Braunstein, "The Great Mos Eisley Spaceport Raid" that we did back in '82 or so...

And we're having a whole lot of fun, too!!! :)

1) Dave, Gary, And Plastics - A Game Of "S&S", From 1975

Your classic Dave and Gary magic-users...
Your classic Dave and Gary fighter types
Your classic Dave and Gary Undead
(You never have enough Undead)

As regular readers of this little confection know, I focus on specific world-settings in my games. Which is why I have lots and lots of Tekumel, Barsoom, and Ancient Egyptian figures in my collection. Lately, though, I have been building classic Dave and Gary D&D figures; the 'Frostgrave' line is perfect for this, s they have that middling Middle Ages look to then that characterized D&D back in the early days. Plate armour? You have got to be kidding! That stuff is expensive, and only paladins and the like can afford it.

So, you may well ask, why am I building up a  D&D force?

Because, Oh My Gentle Readers, I hang out with a bunch of loud, raucous women called The Shieldmaidens who seem to enjoy me telling stories of games long past and of the people who played them.

One of those games, back in 1975, was run by Gary for his friends. He told a bunch of them to drop by and they'd play some fantasy miniatures. He then invited another bunch of them to drop by and play a WWII skirmish game. This being before the invention of social media, nobody compared notes, and when they arrived they all found the table covered in a mysterious mist. The first thing anybody knew what was happening, the crew of the lead 'track was shooting at a troll...

Yep. By popular demand, I'm going to be running a game of "Sturmgeshutze and Sorcery", it all of it's wacky glory. Hidden movement, periscopes, character cards, and all the mayhem inherent in a mash-up of D&D 5E and Tractics. People will not know what side they are on until they open their sealed envelopes that also have their mission orders and victory conditions; they'll also get photos of their figures to make things a bit easier for them.

The 'D&D side' will be the Frostgrave 'Soldiers I' and 'II', with the Frostgrave 'Wizards I' (and 'II', if I can get them in time) with a nice assortment of D&D creatures provided by the Usual Suspects amongst the Shieldmaidens.

"Sooo," I can hear you ask, "What are they going to be fighting?"


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Blackmoor Castle Map - I Hope You'll Pardon My Amusement...

Who would have thought???
Paul Stormberg, a very nice chap who is both the kind of 'preservationist' that I am (read 'packrat') as well as a dealer in game exotica, had an auction recently in which this single page went for some $646.

I laughed a lot. A whole lot.

The joke, you see, is that I printed off about fifty of these sheets for Origins in 1984, where the model of Blackmoor Castle that Dave Arneson had asked me to build was being used as an attention-getter for the AGI trade-show booth for most of the weekend. Like with Phil's Temple of Vimuhla model (which was also on display at that convention), I asked the gifted artist Ken Fletcher to draw a map of the castle that we could hand out at the convention to the passer-by. We handed something like forty, forty-five copies out, and I think I still have three-four of these maps in the files in the game room.

The map was done from my model, which was generated from the plans that Dave had drawn for his Blackmoor campaign. which was in turn were governed by Dave's N-gauge/scale plastic model of the castle (Kibri #37304, to be exact). My model also had the 'dungeon' levels as well, so the entire thing sat some three feet high above the plywood box base. The biggest issue with Dave's plans is that the stairways generally didn't line up; as Dave said to me: "It doesn't matter in the game, so do what you can." I did, and it was a chore. Dave was a great GM, but not the best of architects.

As a historical footnote, the 'L&M Engineering Dept.' listed on the sheet is from my original model railroad: the 'Lackawampum and Miskatonic Railroad', operating in the nether regions of the model railroad hobby. I still have the crack passenger express, the fabled "Soapstone Star" in it's deep midnight blue and brushed-silver livery, with the lit drumhead sign on the observation car showing The Eldritch Sign.

(And yes, the train crew figures were what you think they were, courtesy of the miniatures hobby...)

I am hugely delighted that Paul was able to find one of these hand-outs after all these years, and that somebody got to add it to their collection. Hopefully, they'll use this in a game; mayhem, as I like to say, will ensue...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

D&D, BBC3, and 'Beardos'

"So," I asked in my best John Cleese voice,
"Are there any women here today?"

High-pitched voices: "No! No!"

Low-pitched voices: "No! No!"

I'm back, after a long spell of working odd shifts and dealing with odder contractors.

The genesis of this post was a post on the BBC Twitter feed, about the current state of gaming:

I was astonished by the whooping and hollering about this post that consumed certain gaming and 'geek-culture' circles on the Internet, and gave me some food for thought.

Now, as you all know, I take my responsibilities as an Elderly White Male Gatekeeper Of The Hobby (note 1very seriously; we only do Serious Gaming here at the House of Wonders, with lots and lots of Serious Fun to be had.

In that vein, and in the spirit of this video...

... I asked my players if they'd seen the BBC post. They had, and so arrived at the next game session properly equipped for some Serious Gaming.

And yes, there was so much laughing that at one point in the game, our first-time-in-Tekumel player had her head down on the table, sobbing and crying with laughter.

It's what it's all about, folks, and has been since I got started in this lark by Dave Arneson and Prof. Barker back in 1975: A bunch of friends sitting around a table and laughing their fool heads off...

(Note 1 )

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

"Plastics. The future is in plastics."

First bought for Sixth Daughter for her new campaign.

Harchar's rascals. Period.

Something for me, too...

So, if you don't mind, let's lighten the mood here at The Workbench.

Multi-part plastic figures get some distain from some of the Serious Wargamers I know, but then they don't game on a budget like I do. In these boxes, you get a lot of miniatures for your money, and for a model-builder like me, they are great kits. So...

'Frostgrave' "Soldiers II" - 20 figures to the box

No, I don't play the game. I first got this box for my Sixth Daughter for her world-setting in her new campaign. She squealed with delight, as they fit her world perfectly; the figures are so good I got a box for myself for my Dark Ages campaign. These are nice and crisp castings, and look really good.

You get a variety of basic torsos, and a huge selection of arms and heads. I think, based on the sprues, you'd need to built something like 100 of these boxes before you repeated a combination. What made me happy was the assortment of adventurer's accessories like bundles of rope, lanterns, torches, belt pouches, and packpacks. The set makes up all the adventurers one could want, especially if your players venture into cold weather. We could have used these when we were on "The Affair of the Malchairan Emerald", in Phil's campaign, when we visited the Temple of Ice in Ghaton. It was dang cold, I tell you.

'Ghost Archipelago' "Crewmen" - 20 figures to the box

No, I don't play this game either. I buy forgures to suit the world setting I support, and these figures are perfect for making models of dear old Captain Harchar's merry band of cutthroat rascals - sorry, I meant "honest sea-faring merchants", as Dave described them. He also described them as being of the 'Sinbad the Sailor' genre, with that Hollywood Technicolor look to them that has a sort of vague Middle-Eastern feel; the options in this pack give you that look, as do all of the torsos, and they'll work and look a lot better as Harchar's crew then the Foundry Macedonian 'Phalangite Personalities' that I've been using for years.

Lots of character, lots of options, and a lot of fun. Also as nicely done as the 'Soldiers II' castings.

'Gripping Beast' "Roman Starter Warband" - 25 figures to the box

I'll bet that you know what I'm going to say next. No, I don't play this game either. "Chainmail", by Perrin and Gygax, still works just fine for me, and I still build my forces by getting the best figures I can for a particular period. These are for my Dark Ages campaign, as along with my old Ral Partha / RAFM 'Royal Armies of the Hyborian Age' figures they'll be the locals trying to deal with the arrival of the Shieldmaidens' 'Sheildmaidens'.

I'm normally not a big fan of the late Imperial Roman period, but these figures are really nice. All the details are crisp and clean, and you get enough variety to get a good-looking unit - and a balanced one - out of the box. You also get six cavalry, which is a nice bonus, as well as the more period-correct standards. These are the same sprues as their larger boxes from the period - think of this as a 'sampler' box - and I may ask The Missus for some more of these in next year's budget.

So, there we are. Mayhem will ensue, I think... :)