Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Little Surprise For The Shieldmaidens...

You can't make this stuff up.

One of the games brewing here at the Workbench is a version of "Sturmgeschutz and Sorcery"; I've been asked by the Shieldmaidens to run a teaching game where they can get some familiarization with WWII Red Army tank-infantry tactics so that they can fight the expected sorcerers, warriors, and other Dire Perils with a degree of success. (Me, I think they'll do just fine.) This led me to getting a couple of copies of Wargames Illustrated to get the sprues of spare weapons for the Red Army Women and in the process get some Panzer Grenadiers for the Shieldmaidens to shoot at.

The basic scenario for the teaching game is that one of the Night Witches's crews spotted what looks like an enemy supply dump in a village; however, they took hits from something that puts really big holes in really small biplanes and didn't hang around to take notes. So, they asked the local Red Army command to send somebody into the village to see what might be going on; the colonel is sending out his scout platoon, which is made up of some of those hyper-active hyper-achievers - Anne Norton's Red Army Women" - along with a little back-up in the way of a tank and a tank-destroyer, both also crewed by Red Army Women. (Anne makes crew figures, too!)

Meanwhile, those people over on the other side of the hill have stationed a reinforced squad of infantry in the rural village with orders to hold on as long as possible, and cause as much mayhem in the Red Army's force as they can. They've had some time to get ready, too.

And so have I; I've used my Christmas money to buy the two WizKids 'farm sets', the 'Medieval Farmer' and 'Homestead' sets. These will also be useful for the projected Dark Ages campaign, as beside the farm buildings and accessories that I need for this and the actual game they also have all the usual loot so dear to the Shieldmaidens' hearts: chickens, cows, pigs, and all that other edible stuff that adventurers crave after weeks of hardtack and bully beef.

Besides, with the hidden movement rules, it's so much funnier when somebody spends half the game sneaking up on the hidden enemy, only to find that you've gotten the drop on Elsie the Borden's Cow.

Mayhem always ensues. :)



Baby's First Wargame!



Seventh and Sixth Daughters

While I was out at the game convention helping the Shieldmaidens run their Tekumel game, two of my daughters were playing in their very first real wargame; an old friend who loves naval gaming runs a scenario called "Twilight of the Battleships" at Gary Con, and he was kind enough to invite my girls to come and play in an introductory game based on his scenario. They did, along with some other of our mutual friends, and had a great time learning and playing "General Quarters" - a vintage game, but still a very solid and reliable one.

The daughters played the Japanese to our friends' Americans, and the game was fought out at what was knife-fighting range for WWII warships. They gave as good as they got - if not better - and while I think when dinner was announced they'd lost a couple of ships (A heavy cruiser and a destroyer, I think) whilst the Americans had lost something like three cruisers. Sheer weight of metal was telling; Yamato was stopped dead in the water with hits to her engine rooms, but was still dangerous and in the fight with her massive 18" guns.

However, the Americans' squadron of the older Standard battleships was coming on at full steam, guns primed and ready. The game was paused for dinner, and the table photographed for a future resumption of the game.

Fish and chips were served, and a very good time was had by all.

For me personally, it was a very bittersweet day; I had been asked to help out friends with their game, and so had to miss my daughters' very first ever real wargame.

Time to clean up the miniatures room, and set the table for some mayhem!

The Shieldmaidens Run Tekumel At Con Of The North


GM Chandra Reyer, with Bill Hoyt looking on...


The first party of humans gets hit, and hit hard...

The second party of humans gets trapped and then hit

The figures I did for us, back in 1976;
the torchbearers are new, only a decade old...

We got through the weekend; it's the beginning of the campaign season, up here in the Northwoods, and the local game convention Con of the North sees Brett Slocum's programming track of Tekumel games in full swing. This year, one of the Shieldmaidens Sundays group ran her own take on the genre, with a session using Mark Pettigrew's "Tomb Complex of Nereshanbo" - she had the players playing the tomb guardians, not the usual human adventurers.

We supplied the basics, including a table-sized map of the complex, and we also brought the figures I'd done almost 45 years ago when we started our group out at Phil's. Chandra was using Uni Games' "Bethorm" for the rules, and also used the excellent 'paper model' figures from the same source. It all went very well, and the game play was very fast; Chandra had done 'pre-gen' characters for all the various creatures, and the players picked out what they wanted to play. There was a Nshe, for example, who spent a lot of time in the tomb complex's canal to great effect.

The games went so nicely that they had two parties of intruders, and both were disposed of in very short order. The players thought their way through the situations, and when they did spring their ambushes and got into combat it was quick and messy - they all played to their strengths of their characters, and all of them had a very good time in the process.

I did wind up explaining who all these little painted people were, and we all had a great time post-game talking about Phil and his creation.

All in all, an excellent day! :)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Saul On The Road To Damascus - The Domain Game


Gary's and Dave's concept of the 'end game'.

It's been very cold here, with a snowstorm, and I was out on Saturday with the electric snowblower clearing the drifts; while getting the gear ready, I had one of those illuminating moments that occasionally occur to me.

Back around the turn of the year, there was a discussion of what has been called 'the domain game' in D&D; Both Gary and Dave thought that players would progress to a point in the game campaign where they would become rich and powerful enough to buy, build, conquer, or otherwise become the owner of a feudal domain. Prof. Barker included this in his own "Empire of the Petal Throne" and added the possibilities of career paths in the military and the temples; Phil found that while he could award the small two-hex fiefs to players, the difficulty was keeping them there. They wanted to have 'adventures', and eventually his version of the 'domain game' took a back set to the flow of the campaign.

Some of us still played it, though, which is why I became a provincial governor (Hekellu and the Chaigari Protectorae) as did others (Sokatis, for example) and then later a legion commander. (As did quite a few of Phil's players, I should note.)

By and large, though, that's not the direction that either D&D as a game or as an industry took. Much to their surprise, Dave and Gary found that players preferred to continue to both go up up in level and to go off on adventures - settling down and hiring people to go off on adventures for them was not happening.

How this affects me is that I came into RPGs at the stage where the domain game was the object, and I still play that way; Lord Chirine is, for all intents and purposes, an 'infinite level player-character', and he doesn't have the time to go off and have adventures - he's got a legion to command, a small enclave to run, and he sends players off to do things for him - they have the adventures, and he cleans up afterwards.

I've realized that this is not the way people play RPGs today, mainly; I've noted that I'm more into playing worlds, and not really into sets of rules and game mechanics. Many of the wonderful forums out there on the Internet reflect the opposite, because that's the way that people have been playing for the past forty years. I certainly don't mind that - if you're having fun, that's the whole idea; I've found that I am coming at what's called 'gaming' from a very different point of view and a very different perspective.

My feeling is that if people are interested in what we do here at The Workbench and over at the Proboards forum, please feel free to join us and take away what you can for your own games from the discussions.

My only request is that people don't call these three guys I gamed with 'stupid' for not being able to see forty-five years into the future and knowing how gaming would evolve. Thanks!

Sell-Swords By The Seashore (2)


"Why," said the party, "look at that nice big building at the end of the street..."

Melee with the locals ensued...

The locals in melee fled; note the Gygaxian gazebo, thank you...

More of the locals showed up, in this case three canind beings who happened to be in possession of what appeared to be some sort of map drawn on large sheets of blue paper. The plans appeared to be of the large and impressive building located at the end of the town's main (and really only) street. Discussion with the three canind beings - who were wearing striped shirts with numbers stenciled on them - revealed that the building under discussion was the stronghold of the local Duke, who was reported to be astonishingly wealthy and who was rumored to keep his riches in cash in his stronghold.

You can guess what happened next, can't you? Our party of 'investigators' got into a brawl with the three, cheered on by the three ducks, and in the melee the party's Rogue 'abstracted' the plans (for such they were) and got into the building by The Secret Passage. She then thoughtfully opened the front door of the stronghold - no loading docks for this party! - and after the melee cause the locals to flee, the party came in - shopping bags in hand - and looted the place of as much as they could carry.

Yep, you got it in one; they looted Duke Scrooge's Money Bin. Including the Lucky Dime, if I'm not mistaken

I'm still finding shopkeepers as I unpack.

The party's next port of call is a sunny seaside town, with a menacing volcano in the back ground. And yes, I've been asked to come up with a working miniature volcano for this next game...


Sell-Swords By The Seashore (1)

The party arrives in town

Meets some of the locals...

And gets right to the plotting and conniving...

Coverage of this game was a little spotty, due to the very severe head cold I was suffering from on the day. (I almost didn't think I was going to be able to go, actually.) The game did not go the way that the GM had expected, and she had to play it entirely by ear and on the fly as the afternoon went on...

So, the idea was that the party had been hired as 'private investigators' by the kingdom's government to find out what, if any, skeletons were hiding in the anterooms of one of the local nobles, who was being tipped as the Queen's next husband. (Apparently, discussion of just what happened to any earlier ones is strongly discouraged.) The 'investigators' were given some information, but not much; the GM had labeled all of the buildings in the town with names, put the shops' owners on the table, and was expecting the players to mosey around and ask questions in the best "Maltese Falcon" style.

The players, however, noticed right off the bat that the locals all seemed to be sentient ducks and got very suspicious very quickly. I was startled by this development, as I hadn't expected to take a detour into Gloriantha, but the GM's Assistant GM explained that neither of them had even heard of Gloriantha or even "Runequest". This got me even more suspicious about what the GM had planned, and I had to move away from the table a) to get some fluids in me, and b) not to give anything away to the players who were already looking behind the curtains for suspicious persons.

Sure enough, they found one. A gent by the name of Carl Barks, to be exact.

Yes, that's right; we were in Duckburg, and the party was talking to three ducks of the names Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Mayhem ensued, as they got caught up on the local situation and gossip. The party never did look into any of the GM's carefully prepared shops and businesses, as they got wind of what dear old Captain Harchar would have called "A Personal Wealth Enhancement Opportunity"...



Sunday, January 5, 2020

Back Home From The Mayhem!

The table, looking north along The Street;

The table, looking south. It's quiet. Too quiet...
Well, I made it. I had woken up yesterday morning with about the worst head cold that I'd ever had, and I thought For Sure that I was going to have to call the GM and plead illness.

However, it was pointed out that Zuzu The Klingon Teenager had access to all sorts of sharp objects, and that I had better rise up from my sickbed and get to work. Or Else.

This was a tough table to come up with; I'd been told that it was a 3' x 10', which is not one of my usual sizes; I thought that I might have a 4' x 12' canvas drop cloth in stock - these are sold in the 'Paint Department' of hardware and DIY places, and are just about the cheapest way to get large amounts of game table covered in the shortest amount of time.

You know, of course, how this played out; I didn't have one in stock, and none of the local places I frequent any any of this particular size on the shelves. So, improvise I did, and used some sheets of 2' x 3' felted thick paper instead. Liberal applications of some of my vast stocks of latex paint got brushed on, and some blue spray paint provided the ocean. Some light splotches of a dark brown spray to break up the single base color, and we let the paper dry out.

I managed to salvage some 15mm resin buildings that I'd gotten from a friend's proposed ECW project that he'd had to cancel. These are the old Blue Moon 'Horror' castings, and with a bit of work I think they'd be all right as 25mm buildings as many of the doors look like they were 25mm to start with. I'd already washed off the mold release, so on went a quick coat of my usual white primer and then more latex paint in stucco tones. I think they worked out well for this game, and I'll get them fully painted in the future now that I think they are worth saving.

The palm trees, to suit the theme, were from stock, and lots of what's now called 'scatter scenery' gave the place that 'bustling port town' look. Boats were also from stock; my assumption was that in the absence of a deep-water harbor - there's no room for it on this table - cargo was loaded on small boats and barges and taken out to the ships at anchor. The reed boats, by the way are real reed boats and are from Bolivia; The Missus got them at one of those 'International Market' emporiums.

I'll have a longer report on the game itself, once I get some sleep. More photos, too.

The next game in this campaign is set in a more urban environment - "A Italianate town would be nice..." I was told. It's also going to be on a 5' x 9' table, with gives me more room to work with and is a stock size for the drop cloths I have in hand. However, as I specialize in non-European settings, I'm going to have to come up with some building for this; I suspect some card building kits are in my future...

Much more to come, after a simply marvelous day. And, yes, the look on Zuzu's face when she saw the table was priceless - she just lit up. It made my day, right there. The game was the icing on th cake... :)

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Packed And Ready For Mayhem!!!

 
So, we're all packed and loaded for tomorrow's game. I am not running this clambake; it's the awesome Miss Gillian The Great And Powerful, our very own professional Klingon, fresh from her theatrical triumph as Zuzu The Klingon Teenager in the recent production of that holiday classic "It's an Honorable Life". (Google search it; I'm not making this stuff up. Nobody could) She's running one of her rip-snortin', rootin'-tootin' adventures in the same jugular vein as dear old Mr. Arneson himself. The Official Announcement on The Shieldmaidens' Facebook page said only this:

Tomorrow's GM at her work


Investigate the background and territory of Queen Shaadi's suitor in a delightful seaside port. The Earl says that there are *NO* pirates in his town. Definitely, none.

 What worried me, aside  from her calling me at 10:15 pm on Thursday for a game on Sunday, was has asking several times if I had any ducks in stock. Not the amphibious trucks, but the waddling-and-quacking kind. Last time around, it was chickens, and things got really wild in very short order. I am not playing in this game, otherwise I'd be very, very afraid...

So, we're off again to the seaside. Bring a pail and shovel.

I'll be up early to get out the door and loaded in at the FLGS where this is all happening, and it should be a fun day. I put the blank memory card in my camera, so we should have photos of the mayhem as it happens...



Thursday, January 2, 2020

Avast, Me Hearties!!!! Hoist The Colors!!!







I was on the way home from work tonight, when I got a message from one of my favorite people asking if my Pirate Town was booked for the weekend. I said no, so the infamous game table that launched a thousand small boats will be appearing at The Source Comics & Games this Sunday, January 5th, from noon to six PM as The Shieldmaidens get into yet more trouble at the seashore.

Last time they visited, they burned the place down. I'm bringing a fire extinguisher, this round.

More on what's happening as soon as I get it myself...