Monday, June 26, 2017

The Weekly Update - Monday, June 26th, 2017 - Two Blackmoors, Two Very Diferent Groups

Ah, dear Harchar...

It has been a pretty busy week, here at The Workbench; Fifth Daughter is back this week from Basel, and her sister is also arriving - from Zurich, in this case. Third Daughter's wedding looms, and I have a truck to pack full of folding chairs and tables along with the occasional pavilion. I also had my niece's graduation, and lots of family stuff going on.

As I mentioned a while back, I had been invited to the Annual Blackmoor Game run by Bob Meyer, who inherited Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor campaign when Dave passed away. This was a continuation of the game session last year, and featured all of the original Blackmoor people who could make it. I stopped in and had a nice visit with Dave Megarry, Dave Wesely, Malia Arneson, and of course Bob himself. I didn't play; I felt that I was intruding on a family occasion, and it just didn't feel right for me to be there. Maybe next year...

One additional complication was that the D&D group that had invited me to come along on their own Blackmoor campaign, this time the d20 "Blackmoor" book and D & D 5th edition, as we were going to have a fairly nasty fight on our hands in this particular game session; this had been scheduled before I got the invitation from Bob, and 'first come, first served'... We got the fight we expected, and while we won, it was at fearful loss, and it's going to take a while to recover.

I am enjoying this campaign, as the players are great, but I think I'll be bowing out of this group as soon as we make it back to Blackmoor in the next game session. I am not enjoying 5e, not by a lot chot, as all the number-crunching take forever and bores me silly. I am also not very happy with the d20 version of Blackmoor, as while it's a very good adventure resource, I will freely admit that I'm spoiled - I played with Dave, and there's very little Dave in the books. My Blackmoor will always have Gertie the Great Golden Dragon, and Dave laughing his head off.

So it goes; we'll have to see where gaming takes me, this year.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, June 18th, 2017 - Free RPG Day Report

My little corner of the FLGS - general overview

The new display fabric - posters by The Missus

Game table, with 2' x 4' dry-erase surface, dice bowls, and notepads

Full battle array, with chairs for players and spectators
It has been a very busy week, here at The Workbench, what with settling down after the recent series of game sessions and getting ready for the Free RPG Day at The Source Comics and Games here in the Twin Cities. I was invited to show up and run something in Ye Olde Style for people, and there was also a full program of other games being run by quite a few people that showed off various games and styles. All in all, I thought that it was a fun event.

By happy chance, I had picked up a new Skyline 'Mirage' display and some fabric sets on the Thursday before this event - oh, the joys of surplus shopping! - so I used one of the new sets to give the display a different look. I'm working on doing a specific 'Chirine's Workbench' display for events like this; I now have two complete sets of 'Mirage' 4' x 6' tabletop displays, with three sets of fabric, so I can have a nice choice of displays for events that I do. (I also have the mammoth 8' x 10' free-standing trade show 'Mirage' set, but that's just too big for anything but a large event.) I set up my tables and display in the north-east corner of the game room, and along the long east-west axis of the store - the shop guys loved this, as the first thing that you saw coming in the front door was my display, and it pulled people into the game area for the event.

I was running 'open table' - the players for a game session would pick the world-setting, and I' then run the game in my usual Arnesonian / Gygaxian / Barkerian style. No modules, no adventure paths, no safety net; this was Chirine and his imagination, in the purest form of 'Free Kriegspiel' / 'Open Sandbox Play'. I had on offer Ancient Egypt, Barsoom, and Tekumel, and it would be the players who would vote what they would adventure in.

My first group of four - rising to nine as the morning went on - picked the Ancient Egypt of the 'Lord Meren Investigates' series of books, and we were off! The players had to find out why one of the Sacred Crocodiles in the lake at Malkatta had gotten dead under very suspicious circumstances. Great fun was had by all, including me, as the players worked on solving a fairly intricate plot against Pharaoh and foiling it. One feature of my open table games is that I have to weave newly-arriving players into the action, so we had a Physician-priestess of Sobeck and three of Pharaoh's Charioteers show up in the nick of time, just as they were needed most.

Now, I can hear you all ask "How do they have characters, if they haven't got a set of rules?"

Well, we did have rules - Phil's 'Perfected RPG rules' - and I had the players take notes; so, when somebody rolled to see what happened, this became their 'stats' as needed. I'm sure that some would call this - to quote - "too handwavy, too loosy-goosy", which may be true; but, the players all had fun, and so did I. Everybody had a nodding familiarity with the subject, so it was very easy to get everyone role-playing in very short order.

The second group of six players chose Barsoom, so off we went to the Red Planet to foil the plots and trickery of the Therns. Two players opted to be humans ala John Carter, one was a Thark warrior, and one was a banth named 'Fluffy'. I played it where is lay, as they say at St. Andrew's, and we were off and running aboard a flyer. There was one airborne fight, some shooting at Zodangan ships, and one not-very-clever Thern got dead in a hurry and Dejah Thoris got her Ninth Ray Generator back.

I had one player ask about Tekumel, and I sent him over to John Till's "FATE for Tekumel" game.

All in all, I thought that it was a quite satisfactory outing. A lot of old friends showed up to play, and I was able keep them amused; the new players enjoyed their roles and their games, which was the whole idea of the event. I now havethe day off to unpack and do the laundry - tablecloths, etc. - and get some rest after a long day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, June 11th, 2017 - The Situation, As Of The Moment (4)

The hostile forces
The situation ended in a stalemate, with both sides looking through their various magical spells at each other. This ended the two back to back game sessions, but the players have vowed to return sometime this summer and break out of their Dire Peril. Which they don't seem to be all that concerned about, actually...

It's nice to be able to lave this all set up; one of the reasons I built the game room in the first place.

A long hot day yesterday - most of the past week, actually, but the air conditioners aer back in their windows here at the house and keeping the humidity and temperature down for the Missus. I've spent a lot of time in the nice cool basement, working in the game room to sort things, and we're surviving.

Going to be a very busy day, today; I'm up at dawn as usual to get good Internet access, which is why all the photos have loaded. I'll be off to see the original Blackmoor players - they are getting together for a special game session at Bob Meyer's, today - and then off to the FLGS for more Blackmoor; the party I'm with is about to get jumped by some goblins working for the Egg of Coot, and as a member of the party I want to be there to do my bit.

Not much else in the way of news; all three of the sisters - Daughters 3, 4, and 5 - will be in town for Third Daughter's wedding, and Fourth will be here for a whole month. This raises the possibility of having four of the fine all in one place at the same time, which is a little mind-boggling.

Off to Free RPG Day at the FLGS next Saturday, then a familiy function Sunday, so it'll be jjust as busy this coming week for me... :)

Game Photos (3)

The Qol bring up the heavy hitters; slow, but nsty

What's this? The Qol to the rear are departing!
The 'noises off' turned out to be more Qolwith some heavy support, so the players assumed attack formation and prepared to give them a thumping. These guys are nothing if not game, I tell you. Their rear guard did notice that the Qol in back of them were departing, in some sort of hurry, which they thought was An Interesting Development...

More Game Photos (2)

One of the players being used as a battering ram...
The Qol barricade the door
The players head back to see what all that noise is about
So, one of the players teleports out to open the portcullis, and gets thumped for his pains by the on-rushing Qol. They then use him as a battering ram to push back the rest of the party, and close the portcullins in the players' faces. They get the hint, jam the door themselves to protect their rear, and go off to see what all the noise behind them might be about...

Back To The Underworld! Game Photos (1)

The situation, under the usual lighting - I like the look.

What's this? Lanterns! More Qol! Force the portcullis!

Ah, guys? There are more of them...

The action continued, with the players seeing more lights off in the distance. So, they worked on getting the portcullis raised, but discovered that the activating lever was on the far side of the door. Then, they realized that the defending Qol had brought up more reinforcements from the lower levels of the complex. Things were looking a little sticky...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Weekly Update - Sunday, June 4th, 2017 - Interlude: The Ghosts of Macedon

The Victrix sets, based and primered

Right flank, Numidian lights and Macedonian phalanx

Right flank, Successor phalanx and more Numidian lights
Center reserves, the Macedonian hypastis (spelling?)

I am in the process of sorting out all the photos I took of yesterday's romp, and will have a report and photos for you all as soon as I can. It was a great session, with lots of mayhem and humor; the players are trapped between two forces of Qol, with no possible hope of escape, so they will be back to play out more of this game - they do not seem particularly worried about their predicament! So, what was supposed to be a one-shot is turning into a longer run, and may yet turn into a long-term campaign. We shall see.

In the meantime, I am getting some 'serious' model-making done; the weather is simply fine, with the rain we've had for the past weeks finally letting up long enough for me to get a few things done. I'm putting in the upstairs air conditioner today, and the main level one later this week; it's the annual ritual, and a pain, but it does need to be done.

On a happier note, I have now gotten all of the Victrix plastic figures done for H.M. Cleopatra VII's guard. I have one of each of the three Macedonian infantry sets, as well as two of the Numidian light infantry sets. While I was waiting for the gamers to arrive yesterday, I watched a lot of Stone's "Alexander", so I have all of the historical information I need to get these painted up. Right. Sure. Anyway...

The three 'regular' infantry sets were assembled pretty much 'stock', according to the very minimal instructions on the bag header. I found that by working with two sprues at a time, it was pretty easy to keep all the parts straight and get them assembled in short order; I use Testor's Brush-on Plastic Cement, as these are styrene figures, and I had no issues getting everybody put together. I did make sure to have each unit have a more-or-less identical helmet style, to make it a little easier to tell the units apart. Basing is 25mm x 25mm plywood from TRE Games; I usually use 20mm x 25mm for close-order regulars, but what I can find on Cleopatra's army during the Egyptian 'civil war' indicates that they may have been a little, shall we say, 'shaky' so I went with the slightly larger base. These will also be used primarily for a massive RPG / Braunstein, and the 25mm based fit in better with the 25mm rounds I use for RPG figures.

I like these sets. You get a lot of figures and options for your money, they assemble nicely, and look very good. My one issue is that they are so light - they actually started to move when I used my spray primer on them, so I backed off a bit and they were fine.

The two sets of Numidian lights have been a lot of fun. As previously reported, I used the helmeted hard option for the first set, as I wanted some Salarvyani-looking light infantry - you never have enough of those, I think! I didn;t use any of the shields provided, but used the ones I have left over from the Wargames Factory 'Amazons' as I had used other shields for that set. Yes, I know that the larger oval shield is historically correct, but they look funny on lights - too big, for my eye.

The second set got the un-helmeted heads, and they also got my stock of Foundry wicker shields from the parts bins. I thought that these looked a little more 'Egyptian', and since I intend to use these with the actual Ancient Egyptians I have, I thought it would look all right. And it does; I am very happy with these figures. They also go together well, look good, and are in my opinion good value for money. The oval shields will go into the parts bins; I'll find a use for them, eventually.

Ah, yes, I am aware that by the time of Cleopatra VII a lot of the Successor armies had adopted a sort of Roman look, but I didn't want to have that look on the game table; I already have what amounts to two units of Late Republican Romans (Old Glory) as well as two of Early Imperial Romans (mixed Warlord Games and Foundry) so I wanted these troops to have a different look to them. This is 'Hollywood Aegyptus', after all, shot in SuperCinemaTechoRamaColorScope at Cinecitta ('Hollywood on the Tiber', as it's been called) on the kind of budget that HBO can only dream about.

[Wait a minute. He's got something like sixty+ soldiers, there, not counting the Numidians. If that's going to be a 'palace guard' for a game, then he's either daft or he's got something really big in the works.]

Well, yes, actually. About 8' x 8', in 2' x 2' modular sections. The Missus and the Daughters are helping.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Yet more photos from the last game session...

The party, after evading my big trap

Fighting their way past my first ambush

Starting to fight their way past the second ambush

So, they got past the Nexus Point trap on the west side of the underworld, by simply thinking their way through it - they did have a good time looking in at dear old Nyelmu in the Garden of the Weeping Snows - and pressed onward. They did hit the fist ambush I'd laid on the east side, and after a couple of exchanges of arrows and spells they moved right through it.

The second ambush, which is what we're dealing with in today's game session, is (was) one of my better ones - or so I thought. The players did what you're supposed to do, attack into the ambush, and my poor Qol are taking a nasty beating after some poor dice rolls on my part and some very clever coordinated spell-casting and attacking into melee by the players.

I'd better come up with some really good ideas by the time they get here, this afternoon...

More photos from the last game session...

Using the steps on the stepped pyramid to get a look around...

The Priest of Hry'y and his guards, spying out the landscape

The party finds a way in and down, and swarms the entrance
Second set of photos, and you can see how the players went for the high ground, took a good look around, and were in and down in no time flat. It was a little unnerving for me; these guys were om-mission all the time...

Photos from the last game session...

General overview of the surface table

General overview of the underworld table

My brother, the Priest of Hry'y, and his guards
This is the first of three sets of photos shot by my brother. He played the Priest of Hry'y in this game session, and did so with great verve and gusto. (As my Qol found out. Sigh.) I am not going to do much of an after action report yet, as we still have today's game session to play, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Certain Players are reading this blog...

More to come!