Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"No, not Black Leaf! No, no!"

I've been gaming for a long time. While I stick primarily to wargaming these days, I cut my teeth in the early eighties with Dungeons & Dragons, the grandaddy of fantasy gaming. Today fantasy RPGs are going through a bit of a renaissance, and while not entirely mainstream they've become an accepted, if somewhat geeky hobby.

The early days of D&D were a bit different as American mainstream culture didn't seem to know what to make of tabletop role playing. Always a niche pursuit, the game's growing popularity drew increased attention which grew from disinterest and dismissal into an increasingly bizarre and panicked fervor. Beyond shunning and ignoring a fringe subculture the mainstream didn't understand, the rising "Satanic Panic" that gripped adults who feared their children were being lured to eternal damnation by strange, many-sided dice lead to a number of shrill screeds against the game that was "corrupting the youth of America."

Jack Chick

Surely you've seen this, right? During the early 80's, Jack Chick (evangelical cartoonist and annoying busy body) produced rafts of misguided comic book pamphlets to save the souls of anyone who failed to adhere to his particular interpretation of the Bible. Naturally, a game in which players could learn honest-to-God spells like "Otto's Irresistible Dance" had to be thwarted at all costs.

His anti-RPG comic "Dark Dungeons" recounts the tale of a role playing group adventuring using the Dark Dungeon rules.

Somebody really should be stacking dice here.

Look at the size of those miniatures! Those have to be 54mm at least, unless the party is facing a clan of Hill Giants or something. Also, Debbie in the pigtails is pretty cocky. She casts "Light" and declares the monster blinded? Uh, hello Debbie, I'm pretty sure the DM needs to roll a save first.

Marcie you spaz, you knocked over Debbie's Pepsi!

This is my favorite bit. It's stuck with me ever since I encountered it decades ago. First off, "Black Leaf" is a great name. So evocative, so old school! I honestly love it. Second, Black Leaf's player Marcie's reaction. So great! So over the top! Look at the speed lines coming out of her head, she must be totally wigging out, whipping her head back and forth in disbelief. "Guys!" she must be silently pleading with her eyes, "Delay Poison spell? Anybody?"

Debbie the magic user has had enough of Marcie's fits. I'm guessing "Black Leaf" is the just the latest in a long line of Marcie's dead PCs, each accompanied by one of her overreactions. Debbie has had ENOUGH. It's the only explanation, otherwise the other five members of the party could probably pool their cash and get Black Leaf raised.

"No, no!"

I've lost my fair share of player characters, and even more tabletop wargaming units, heroes, spaceships, and minions. Inevitably while I'm moving the fallen figure off the tabletop to it's resting place within a foam storage carrier a tiny voice in the back of my head mourns for it sarcastically, "Black Leaf, no!"

I got a kick out of putting together my Undead Astronaut shirt recently, so I've spun up another commemorating the untimely demise of one of tabletop gaming's fallen heroes:

These will be available on Amazon for a few months if you'd like to join me in a memorial to poor tabletop sportsmanship. And just in time for the holidays!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Elder Thing by RAFM

Over the last few months I've spent my scant free time working (and reworking) a set of rules I've been writing up. I was jonesin' to put paint to lead though and figured a one-off figure would be a nice break from staring at a word processor.

I plucked this "Elder Thing" from RAFM's Cthulhu line, intending to prime it white and do a series of quick ink washes to pick out all the gribbly details on the critter's torso. "This will be a great mini to post to the blog for Halloween!" I optimistically thought. With Thanksgiving arriving in a few days and this post just going up, you can perhaps sense the trouble this miniature gave me.

I read "At the Mountains of Madness" years ago in which the Elder Things make an appearance. I don't recall much about the story, but I do remember that author H.P. Lovecraft had been inspired by the recent discovery of prehistoric crinoids which influenced his description of the alien "Things" that menace the Antarctic explorers of the story.

Fossilized crinoid. Creepy.

With a nod to these underwater origins Elder Things, I thought a mix of blues, purples and pinks would suggest the colors of tropical coral reefs and the sea creatures that make their homes there as well as looking suitably otherworldy.

Getting that balance of shades proved trickier than I imagined. I used washes, inks, drybrushing, airbrushing, and repainted the whole thing three times before I was satisfied with it. And of course I missed my Halloween deadline, but self-prescribed timetables are no use if you aren't happy with the result, right?

I've used the creature in a few playtests of my rules where the creature has devoured a number of hapless security guards and military police. Who knows, maybe my rules will be ready by next Halloween!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October Update

My blog has been dormant since our trip to Historicon this summer, but I've kept a number of plates spinning in the meantime.

Facebook Profile

I've been playing Star Wars Armada and Blood and Plunder at our weekly game sessions, and posting about them on my Twitter feed. I realize there's a whole segment of people who don't cross-pollinate between multiple social media platforms, so I've just set up a Facebook page to repost my tweets to. I'm hoping to also connect with like-minded gamers who don't venture beyond the closed loop of Mark Zuckerburg's platform and as another place to talk about games.

Dead Astronaut

Even spooky vampire girls love it!

With Halloween approaching I've had spooks and spectres on the mind. For fun, I adapted the "Undead Space Explorer" logo from my home brew sci-fi space marines for use on a t-shirt. I made this for myself, but these are available on Amazon in all their ghastly glory if you're interested.

Generic Police / Security Officers

"Lawmen" by Crooked Dice Games. Some of these guys are really packing some heat!

I needed some pretty specific law enforcement figures for a game I'm working on, but wanted to be able to use them in future scenarios vs. rioters, zombies, Russians, etc.  Crooked Dice Games' "Lawmen" had the best sculpting with a variety of weapons and heads to tailor the figures in exactly the manner I needed. I've painted them in some fairly generic tan uniforms, but will need to pick up some more in the future for the classic "boys in blue" look. Recommended if you need to bulk up the law enforcement on your tabletop.

Behold, My Hubris

The bulk of my hobby time over the last few months has been dedicated to noodling through my own set of rules. Like many of you I've toyed with writing my own game (nearly from the first time I picked up a set of dice), but this summer I decided to focus on bringing a set of rules to completion. They're still in an embryonic state, but I've learned quite a bit undertaking this project. It's been an educational process and I've developed a deep respect for any author who has managed to pull their ideas together into a cohesive whole that strangers around the world can understand and conduct a game with. I've got quite a way to go, but I'm looking forward to publishing a free PDF of a final min-game in the future to gather criticism.

With the bulk of writing a first draft out of the way, I'm eager to get back to rolling dice and painting up figures soon. I feel as though I've been completely out of contact from the hobby scene (my apologies if I haven't visited your blog lately), and have a lot to catch up on. So, any new developments in the world of hobby gaming? Clue me in!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Historicon 2017 - Saturday

Sometimes you join a participation wargame and its not quite what you'd hope for. Tons of downtime, unclear goals and rules, fiddly minutia that leaves you feeling every minute of a four hour run time.

But then there are other games that are just magic. Check out photos and a report from my Historicon experience after the jump, in which I lucked into not one but two of those killer games that leave me counting the days to the next convention.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Historicon 2017 - Friday

I finished up some work after lunch, packed the family in the car and crept down 95 to Historicon, arriving just before registration closed. Despite my late arrival, I managed to snag a spot in a game and check out some of the great looking games nearby. Pics after the jump.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Blood and Plunder: First Thoughts

With my jungles finished, my lanceros painted and my Spanish dwellings ready to be raided, one of my usual gaming buddies Chris and I finally got some of our forces from the Blood and Plunder kickstarter on the table.

Being our first game we stumbled through the rules, but were able to dig in enough to get a good feel for how the game plays. Buckle your swashes and join me after the jump for our initial impressions.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Making Jungle Terrain

My game group is eager to get started on some Caribbean pirate action with Blood and Plunder, but we're sorely lacking in appropriate terrain. We assembled some Spanish style resin buildings, but the pine trees, oaks and other temperate vegetation I have just won't cut it for swashbuckling adventures across the Spanish Main.

Check out my method for creating dense jungle terrain after the jump.