A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Little Something for Christmas

This was a project I did a few years ago for a contest that then decided to stop existing or acknowledge it existed.

Unlike the D&D one for a gaming site that no longer is around, the site this one was for IS.

Its kind of an homage/mockery of the old 80s mecha cartoons and silly holiday comics.

Looking back on it now its REALLY too short to tell a proper story (OMG BENDIS WAS RIGHT!) and there aren't quite enough jokes.

But its cute and silly enough I suppose.  Imagine the narrator to be the one from the old "Superfriends" cartoon.  (MEANWHILE... at the HALL OF JUSTICE...)  Cmon..  you know the voice already.

Its also the first appearance of the little green probe obsessed aliens from my D&D houserules project.

Merry Christmas readers!

TE 26


TE 27


TE 28


TE 29

Thursday, December 17, 2009

AT-43 Comic Battle Report: Karmans vs Therians

More gaming battle report comics from me! This time it is AT 43. With luck my descriptions of the rules are correct. Either way we had fun, and its a good way to show the basics of how the game works compared to 40K. I am not quite sure what those little grey side bubbles are coming from, I think its a flaw in the current version of Comic Life.

It never did that till the most recent update.

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We tried to run a demo game at Arkham Asylum, but there was only one table shunted off in the arcade game room, making a demo pointless since nobody would SEE us playing, we would have been limited to about 1:45 to set up, play, and clean up, and it would have been a half table which is TOO small for a game. So I decided it was best to just go have dinner with friends, then go play a more satisfying game at MagicDrew's place. Plus I could say hi to Bebe the dog:



Bebe is an awesome friendly dog. Friendly without jumping all over you, and not trying to munch your stuff. But don't leave food on the floor!

(And don't forget Merlin the big fuzzy kitty.)

We had to call for time, but at the end point I was winning, but MagicDrew could easily turn it around with a little luck. I couldn't repair either of my AFVs, and I didn't have much infantry left.

With luck we can get more AT-43 in on a regular basis. Playing again after so many months reminds me how superior it is to Warhammer 40K, and not by a company so horrible and abusive as Games Workshop is.

Edit thanks to the guys at the official AT-43 forums:


But there was a big rules gaffe. Tiamat when she Body Hacks, replaces the ENTIRE unit with an Overseer. If she dies and the Therian player has an LP left the closest Therian unit with an Overseer gets bumped or Tiamat won't show up again.

Very "Matrix" agent she is. Course the Therians have a serious Matrix robots vibe about them so I wouldn't doubt if it wasn't a major influence on the army design.  Hmm.. netspeaking Agent Smith.  That amuses me for some reason.  Would have been amusing to see in sequels to the Matrix.  Which they NEVER MADE.  Nope.  Just one cool movie and a neat cartoon anthology, yup...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Sales Equal More Gaming Cheap!

Yeah.  Thanks to holiday sales and clearances I have gotten massive piles of stuff.

Hot Monkey Luvvin


This is close to 400 dollars of AT 43 Karmans. I paid? 104 with shipping. 60 Dollar King Mammoths for 10 bucks. 30 dollar infantry boxes for 7.


(Not shown: Gifts for friends. 70 dollar Confrontation starter box for 10. 20-25 dollar attachment boxes for the units in the box for 3.)




Yeah.  From the now discontinued Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition.  Each of these books was 5 bucks a pop.  Normally they retailed for 25-40 bucks each.




This one is less a sale and more a clearance thing at Target.  For 10 bucks a boxed package with 10 Star Wars Pocketmodel TCG packs in it.  Normally these things went for 5-6 dollars each.  And here I get 2 Clone Wars, 2 Order 66, and 6 Ground Assault Packs.  Obviously for TV tie in, the 2 Clone Wars packs were the only ones visible in the window on the box, but that's ok.  10 dollars is a STEAL.  If there are more of these boxes left I will probably end up buying 1 a week till they all get sold.  I never really bought any Ground Assault boosters when it was a new set (as I mainly got them to use as cheap ships for Silent Death) so it will all be new to me.  And there are a few ship models in the Ground Assault Wave.  Plus, the ground models could make nice use in 6mm games.




This here is 98 dollars worth of Palladium RPG books (including one book thats LONG out of print, the Rifter #1.  Its not even available to buy!) from their annual Christmas Grab Bag deal.  You put in various things you would like and if you want signatures from the creative team, and they pick from it and give you stuff.  The price?  37 plus shipping.  So roughly 50 dollars for 100 dollars of goodies based on what you tell them you would like.  The A Plus is some ancient late 70s comic old Kevvy S contributed to back in the day which is pretty neat.  And getting Rifter 1 is totally awesome.  I know Palladium does some stupid things and the rules kind of blow chunks, but hot damn if the art and fluff don't rule.  And this Grab Bag every year is fantastic.  Last day they do it is the 21st of December so if you want some cool things cheap its well worth it!  They give you great selections of goodies.  In previous years I have gotten hardback printer's proofs editions of rulesbooks, neat little sketches for signatures, and a great value for the dollar every year.

Plus if enough people mentioned how they would love to see a better rule system in the comments section, maybe Palladium would listen.  As it is, Siembieda might realize he isn't always right as opposed to him just listening to himself and the yes man fanboy cult that are on his forums.  You can buy some great idea filled books, AND maybe help change the company for the better.

I don't have pictures, but Lulu.com of the Print on Demand publishing fame has a great sale going on too. Put HOHOHO in the coupon type field and get 20% off anything you order.  A great time to try out a small press RPG, buy new issues of the Fight On and Knockspell old school D&D fanzines, and such.

I grabbed Ruins & Ronin, a Samurai style offshoot of the excellent Swords & Wizardry OD&D retroclone, X-Plorers which is an old school RPG inspired Sci Fi RPG, and the first supplement book, Galactic Troubleshooters #1.  Saved 6.50 which is like getting my shipping free.  If I had more cash to burn I would have grabbed Cartoon Action Hour 2nd edition, and the last year's worth of Fight On magazines.  Which I probably should have since the books I ordered are all cheap as chips to begin with, being 10-12 dollars.


(Also not shown: 34 dollars for a 50 dollar Uncharted Seas fleet and extra cash off some blisters.  I now have myself the Bone Griffons Undead fleet.  With GIANT.  ZOMBIE.  WHALES.)


But some of you may be rightly wondering how I can afford all this silly fun I don't need.

Well, because as I have mentioned, I have been selling stuff I don't need or want anymore, mostly at a profit.  In some cases 400% profit.

Right now these guys are up on the bay with 300+ viewers, and 7 people watching it (plus at least one person trying to get me to sell it to them a little under what I have as a minimum bid.  Which is still a small profit given what I paid for it mind you, but a bit away from what I should get for it!) meaning I might have some more funny money to maybe clear out my Amazon wishlist:

Tau For Sale


Yeah. 720 dollars worth of Warhammer 40,000 Tau. Like the Orks, I just don't enjoy playing them. And considering I spent maybe 300 bucks total on them, I think I can get some nice spending money. I could use some new winter tires and glasses anyhow.


After these guys sell, both my Warhammer Fantasy armies go up. That game has barely any local players, and I just don't have fun with it. The friends who were getting into the game with me so we could ease our way in all basically bailed on it. So why not sell them and get some useful goodies? Besides, Arcane Legions fits my Fantasy miniatures block warfare needs better than Fantasy ever did!


And one final thought. Some of these products above are from clearance sales as they are no longer in print. (In AT-43's case there are rumors that even though its doing well in the US it's days may be numbered...)


I say: "So?". Does a game magically stop being fun when a new edition comes out or the game itself is discontinued? Are we such consumer whores we NEED a constant stream of new product to play the game? Are we just afraid other people will quit playing? (Mainly because they are STUPID mind you..)


Hell, I don't care if AT 43 is cancelled tomorrow! It means the game is relatively balanced and new editions and supplements won't mangle things up like every new Warhammer 40K codex or rules edition does, seemingly just to make people buy more crap. (My Tyranids might become unplayable with the new book due in January. I certainly don't want to have to buy new models to be competitive, or because my army build is now made illegal or obsolete. I LIKE my Genestealer invasion army dammit! Genestealers, Lictors, Spore Mines, and Ripper Swarms. Its fluffy and fun to play. Its effective but nowhere near broken. If anything its hobbling me compared to most Tyranid armies!)


I have 4 AT 43 armies that are all decently sized. Going OOP would just mean I buy more stuff at clearance prices. As long as I have people willing to play the game with me, I don't even NEED other people to buy stuff! It just becomes a board game. A really elaborate one. And since when have people needed board games to have endless expansions?


(Well, at least until Fantasy Flight Games pretty much made it a standard instead of somewhat unusual..)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review Corner: Litko Aerosystems' Custom, Flame, and Smoke Counters

Selling my toys on Ebay has been profitable for me so far.  Who knew toys were a better investment than Blackjack, Hookers, and Alcohol?

I did.

So thus I can afford to spend money on gaming aids that are all fancy and luxurious.  And reviewing them means more content for this here blog!

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While the counters ARE a bit pricey for what you get, given their utility and the fact they just look so gosh darn FANCY I think they are worth it overall. Nowhere near a must buy, but if you have the cash you can't go wrong, especially with the premade sets they have.


I might get this one for Warhammer 40K next time I can place an order:
http://www.litkoaero.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=TS112



After all, tabletop gaming is expensive as is, so if you can afford it, why not game with a little class if you can?



Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Selection: My Top 5 Campaign Settings

Over at RPGsite they asked folks what their top 5 RPG settings were.  Obviously this means published ones and not homebrews or using other entertainment IP that hasn't had an official RPG version made.

I didn't have to think hard and came up with my 5.  Here they are.  I won't go into massive detail about them since in many cases you ALREADY know the settings, or should really do some Googling and Wiki action to know more.


Ravenloft - (Black Box era) Best dark fantasy world ever. Its a funhouse prison. That's not fun. Even the guys with ULTIMATE POWER are miserable. They are more damned than everyone else, they just don't quite realize it.  Basically Ravenloft is a demiplane in the D&D multiverse.  There are "powers" there looking for beings of great darkness and passion.  They will trap these beings and give them their greatest wish while also giving them their greatest fears, effectively making them prisoners in a hell of their own devising.  These beings now have immense power in a land made especially for them, but they are trapped and tormented for eternity.  A vampire who became such when he killed his younger brother on his wedding day to a woman the vampire was in love with as well will constantly learn of reincarnations of the woman who will ALWAYS escape his grasp, usually by death.  A great warlord will have utter and complete dominion over his lands, but will never be able to defeat or even step into a nearby land.  Yet innocents are continually brought into these dark realms and must either escape or learn to fight against nearly impossible odds.

Star Wars - (KOTOR era best, but all main eras are valid) Its freaking STAR WARS. Its always awesome, even if the movies sometimes had... issues. Swashbuckling high adventure with melodrama and cool technology.  If I really need to describe why Star Wars is awesome, you don't belong on my blog.  Or you REALLY need to be here so I may bless you with my wisdom to save you from your miserable soulless existence.  Seriously.  STAR WARS.  KOTOR era is the coolest as you have tons of Jedi, cool invading enemies in the Sith and Mandalorian empires, wisecracking homicidal assassin droids, and it being so far before the main movie era of Star Wars you can really do anything you want and it won't affect anything.  Plus not in the shadow of the Skywalker clan is always a good thing too.

Battletech Inner Sphere (3000-3065) Sci fi with robots, Machiavellian politics, and a wide variety of interesting campaigns, from near Mad Mad scavenging to high tech high stakes politics where the guys in the big robots are just mostly pawns. Ignoring the fact that while AWESOME giant robots aren't feasible combat weapons, Battletech is one of the best hard sci fi universes out there.
Provided we pretend the timeline ends after the FedCom Civil War anyhow...  Mankind has colonized much of the galaxy.  And brought war and greed with them.  No matter what happens, humanity cannot stop doing inhuman things to satisfy their base needs.  Just now entire star systems' worth of people suffer and die and fight for their freedoms instead of countries.  The scale of war has changed, but humanity has not.

Chaos Earth - Its Rifts. DURING THE APOCALYPSE. What good is all your bad ass technology when everything you ever cared about is dead, dying, or about to be removed from existence? Massive carnage on a global scale, yet there isn't any time to grieve as... THINGS are coming out of portals, probably from Hell and just making the few survivors into a buffet. We aint got time to cry. Let's save people till we can't. If this is mankind's last days, what sort of person do we want to be in them?  Nuclear war has caused massive upheavals in the planet, as ley lines of magic crossing the Earth have been enhanced by the death of limited nuclear war.  But the energies of death make the lines more powerful causing massive change in the planet and more death, causing the ley lines to get even more powerful.  And where these ley lines cross creatures from other dimensions have now found open gateways onto Earth.  And a planet undergoing massive, multiple cataclysms is a planet ripe to be harvested...

Robotech Invid Invasion - Bad enough Earth had a global civil war, and suffered through 2 alien invasions we BARELY beat back both time, but now a third invasion has happened and this time the aliens are in fact ALIEN to us. They won, and are using us as slave labor or as tools for experiments. They CAN be fought, but are you smart enough, resourceful enough, and tough enough to fight back? Earth lost. Its time to take it back, or at least leave one humongous repair bill for those big metal buggy bastards.  The Invid invaders might have mechanical robots, but so do we, and maybe where armies failed, small bands might succeed in guerilla warfare.  Its almost like the French Resistance in World War 2, except our resistance efforts are against a worldwide alien occupier.  And we have transforming motorcycle power armors and jets.    They are harvesting "Flowers of Life" that feed them and that power our mecha.  Let's show them Earth isn't their farm.



Also rans since its not fair to just list 5 awesome gamescapes to play in after all!


Bubblegum Crisis
1-2nd edition era Forgotten Realms
Call of Cthulhu all eras
War of the Lance era Dragonlance
Age of Apocalypse era XMen.  (Kind of a kludge as while there are multiple Marvel RPG systems, this timeline has never really been statted out officially for RPG play.  But who cares Age of Apocalypse is FREAKING AWESOME.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Red Rockets Return!

Or: What do you do when your big Arcane Legions game you spent an hour or so prepping for the night before fails to happen because one of your players and his army can't show up?

Well, Battletech!  Its always good when you want a semi quick miniatures game.  Provided you don't play with tons of mechs per player anyhow.

And what better time for an untold tale of those wacky Red Rockets?

(Click the picture to view normal size.)











I'm so proud of Magicdrew.  We will turn him into a wargamer yet!  Of course it was my utterly awesome training games from 07-08 thereabouts that did it naturally.  I am a good teacher of hobby games.  Even if I get Vindicators and Enforcer models confused sometimes.

(Note to self: Vindicators have funny things on their heads and Enforcers do not.)

Comics' Sucking, and Other Reasons We Keep Buying Junk

Over at RPG Pundit's blog (he of the entirely too angry at the completely insignificant Forge Indie Storygames fame) has a bit of a rant about the return of Bruce Wayne as Batman.

You see, in the most recent X CRISIS series DC did to get people to buy more comics they offed Batman in a way giving him a totally obvious way not to really be dead, and thus he can come back, now with a new miniseries everyone will buy just because its apparently special another character who was killed is coming back.

As if the returns of Superman, Flash, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and Captain America (Steve Rogers) among other big name comic book characters who have died and come back haven't shown us comic book characters will never, EVER stay dead as long as there is money to be made.


That's why superhero comics mostly suck.  Death doesn't matter.  Story doesn't matter.  Its just an endless IP holding pattern for movies, cartoons, toys, and videogames.

Nobody can stay dead because then you can't sell the character anymore.  And it OMG might confuse the majority of people who don't and won't read comics anyhow.

We can't even have their worlds be believable since it might confuse people if a world where aliens constantly visit Earth and we have super science too might actually be different than ours.  

Science fiction confuses people I guess.  Its like most fantasy worlds all basically still being middle ages with a modern morality lens and almost zero plausibility.  Like how castles still even exist given the types of monsters and magic in most fantasy worlds makes the expense and inconvenience of a castle pointless.


Heck, take Marvel.  NO MORE MUTANTS (From the House of M miniseries.  The Scarlet Witch having a retarded emo moment uses super magic to de-mutant most of the Marvel Universe's mutants.  Except the most popular ones.  Except a few that were made normal until they found a way to get their powers back anyhow.) was possibly the dumbest major thing Marvel did to its world.  Since having lots of mutants mean Marvel earth is too far gone from our own and would confuse people.  


Because I guess all the fascinating tales that could be told are trumped by not appeasing people WHO AREN'T GONNA READ COMICS ANYHOW.  Yet the story beat of a world fearing overthrow by 200 mutants still makes sooo much sense even with government made super soldier projects, giant flying aircraft carriers, and even the odd god from myth hanging out.  Not to mention sorcerers, the Devil, Count Dracula and his MOONBASE (which is totally awesome by the way.  No wonder nobody bought the series this took place in.  Comic fans hate buying awesome books.) , gates to other worlds where all the superheroes got turned into zombies, ect, ect.


But Marvel and DC still get all the sales in comics so they see no reason not to keep putting out their junk.


And we seem to keep buying it.  And if people like me complain we are just miserable haters who should NEVER EVER say anything negative because we are hurting people's feelings who do like it, but don't have enough self esteem to enjoy it unless they think everyone else loves it too.


(Just look at RPGnet.  Bash most games and you are vilified.  Unless its Palladium which they have decreed open season on, yet anyone defending it is a big old fanboy trolljerk.  But if you say something negative about Exalted or whatever other flavor of the week product is out you are a jerk.  The Games Workshop fantards are especially annoying the second anyone dares say anything about their beloved 87 million dollars in sales company who treats its customers and retailers like garbage.)

Much like how hobby games all keep buying the same small bit of product its OUR OWN DAMNED FAULTS.  If we would stop buying this crap in large enough numbers it would stop.


If the return of Bruce Wayne as Batman caused say, Batman sales to drop by 20-40% it would let them know to stop the revolving death door.  If Spider Man making a deal with Mephisto had caused sales to plummet it would have sent a message.

But humanity in general are flipping consumer addicts and thus we might as well lay back, close our eyes, and think of England.



Look at all the people angry over design decisions made in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and Left for Dead 2.  Most of the people complaining STILL BOUGHT THE GAMES.  (Though in LfD2 the biggest complainers were all but bought off by the game's developer.  Ethics are overridden by free trips to play the game at the developer's studio I guess.)


And that's the biggest problem folks.  People might even complain.  But between the defenders of the corporation, and the complainers who buy the things they are unhappy about anyhow, it just encourages companies to keep doing it.


And they will.  Do you really think prices would keep going up on everything if we stopped buying it?  Do you think products would be increasingly shoddy if we still bought it?  Would TV shows keep having bad plots if we kept watching?


HELL NO.


Obviously the companies would never admit they were at fault, but if we as a people throughout the world would USE the power we seem to not care about having we could do amazing things.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some Tricks for Tunnels & Trolls' Magic System

This came through as something I was thinking about but the blog "The Omnipotent Eye" (See my blogs followed area for a link.  I really must learn how to use all of the functions available to me in Blogger someday..) got me to actually write things up.

You see, spellcasting in Tunnels & Trolls 7.5 edition is sort of weird.

In that opponents with a higher Wizardry score are immune to spells from someone with a lower Wizardry score.  So until that enemy spellcaster has burned his WIZ (or Mana.  Or Spellpoints.  All the same thing really.) spellcasters with lower WIZ cannot even affect him.  (Edit: According to the Trollgod himself Ken St Andre I missed something I could have sworn I read back when I first read the ruleset but missed on my recent reskimming of the book.  Spells still go off but merely the WIZ actually spent subtracts from the defender.  Which is a little low really.  I think my ideas still improve things.)

This... is kind of not good.

See in Tunnels & Trolls you can also buff spells to do more damage, have a longer duration, or just have a smaller WIZ cost to cast because you are of a higher level or have a magical focus doo dad.

So a fix needs to be made.  One that is exciting and cinematic.  One that is tactical.

And I may have come upon the solution I posted to the Omnipotent Eye.  Here it is for all of you with some tweaks and edits.



So a damage spell hurts your WIZ first, then overflow damage goes to your CON, what T&T uses for Hit Points.  So say your 40 WIZ, 20 INT(elligence) spellcaster casts Take That You Fiend.
Normally this spell costs 6 WIZ.  Our spellcaster decides to cast it at a times 3 effect for a casting cost of 18.  Well our hero is also level 4 since he has that 40 WIZ so the cost is reduced by 4 to 14.  If our caster had a normal magic wand/staff this drops to 11 as the spell is being cast as a 3rd level spell.  (I could go into the more fancy focus items in the Monsters & Magic Book but I want to keep things a bit simple.)
Normally our 100 WIZ enemy wizard would laugh and be completely immune to a 80 point whopper of a spell. (TTYF doubles its previous effect at each level.)  That's kind of stupid and unexciting.  Spellcaster Bob uses one fourth of his eldritch might to stop Wizard Doug.
And because Doug has more WIZ?  Doug is immune and Bob has to go target something else.
This is dumb.  Also it then means Bob can then cast the same spell at an even cheaper cost since he is higher level, and turn Doug into cinders and he can't do anything but die horribly.
But..
What if we use my system?  Bob casts his spell which does 80 points of damage?
We get strategic now.  Doug can now decide to take the hit OR subtract the damage directly from his WIZ, weakening his magic store, but keeping him alive and ready for a counterattack that will probably take Bob out anyhow, though leaving Doug almost empty of WIZ so Bob's friends can take the pesky Wizard out.
Let's make it even more thoughtful.  You can CHOOSE how many points to take from your WIZ and CON when hit by a spell.  Maybe your spellcaster partially lowers his defenses so he can cast a massive counterattack spell or maybe even a mass heal spell that heals him and his minions.
We have just turned T&T's magic system into cinematic duels.  Rock.
But you may be wondering what we do about non direct damage spells.  Well this is easy.  The WIZ reduction from the target is the BASE cost of the spell including its' boosting cost.  So a 12 WIZ spell boosted twice is 36 points of WIZ the spellcaster has to subtract (in non direct damage spell's cases no splitting it.  All or nothing to WIZ) that 36 no matter how cheaply the enemy spellcaster had made it due to levels and foci.  Or the spellcaster can take a chance on a Saving Roll or whatever else could be done to avoid the negative effect.  Or just take it.
It all becomes an epic gamble of wits.
Good and tactical for the lower mages too. Its as if they are fighting off the higher powered mage by forcing him to use his own Kremm to stop their magical attacks as opposed to using it to hurt them!

Its also nice for your non spellcasters as WIZ matters to them too.  It gives them a little defense from enemy spells.  Now no longer can Wizard Doug blast Dave the Daring with a TTYF and have him die.  Dave has 15 WIZ which lets him soak up 15 points of damage.  Sure the majority is still hitting him.  But now that barely armed and armored Doug has to deal with a VERY angry and scorched Warrior who has a good 30 combat adds plus a nice 7D6+1 Flamberge ready to send Doug 6 feet under.  (Doug thought himself too special to spend Adventure Points in buffing his CON.  Thus Doug only has 20 CON.  And Doug cast a spell so no Combat Rolls period.  Doug chose poorly and has to endure 38-73 points of damage.  Doug only has 8 points of armor.  Doug is a dead Wizard.  Goodnight Doug.)
Would you rather be frozen in place, or lose WIZ?  With my system you get to make that choice, making some exciting decisions in the heat of combat like my examples show.

More thoughts and update:  There are various discussions if armor blocks damage effects.  I am probably missing it just like the Kremm drain rules but as far as I am concerned?  Any damage spell that has a physical effect that could be blocked by armor IS.  So a Fireball type would be blocked by armor, but a spell sending brain NEEEMS to the head wouldn't get any armor resistance unless the defender was wearing a helmet.  In crossover games with Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes we just made Tin Foil Hats essential adventuring gear!
Oh yeah.  And friendly spells ignore the above and always work.  A spell that heals the body isn't going to be affected by the WIZ values of other caster or target.  The rules above just affect harmful spells.
I don't care how high my WIZ score is.  If someone casts "Zooey Deschanel in Your Lap" at me, that is helpful and will always work.
However my WIZ score would be used to BLOCK "Watch Fox News".



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hey Game Sellers!

Learn to ship your bloody products in something sturdy!

I ordered Witch Girls Adventures and the Witch Girls comics as a gift for a Harry Potter/Urban Fantasy loving friend. The review in Knights of the Dinner Table spoke highly of it, and it sounded pretty neato. Broaching the idea with the friend he seemed hot on the idea, and the RPG group he plays in also seemed willing to give it a shot.

So great Christmas present (albeit one without surprise. But its got thought to it and is something he would like. As opposed to say, my cousin who lives 5 minutes from me 2 years ago where I spent 70 bucks or so on his family getting them each something with at least a little thought and what do I get? A 4-5 dollar tin of popcorn. Popcorn. For someone who was and still is on a diet that at one point had taken 60 pounds off of them.) for someone right?

Well it would be. If the books didn't come in like this:


Both "Wicked" and "Nice" editions with the top of the covers tearing off, plus bent badly.  And the comics while thankfully not torn, are bent and creased all up and down their spines.

Have game sellers not heard of boxes?  A decent small box and maybe a little newspaper or bubble wrap and I would have gotten these things nice and minty the way I want em.

So many game sellers try to save on shipping using a piece of cardboard and those soft mailers.

They should stop.

Mailboxes and PO Boxes are SMALL.  The mailers are always bent out of shape in them.  So many books I have gotten have come to me in less than optimal condition because the Post Office just shoves these things into the box, and I can only assume the mangling they get from Point A to Point B.

Seriously sellers, both pro and Ebay:  Charge a buck or two more if you have to, but for crying out loud: PROTECT YOUR PRODUCT.

UPDATE:  Already they have responded to my email and are happy to refund my money.  Sadly new books are 3-4 weeks out as they are currently totally out of stock.  I guess between the Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine review, and 2 massive threads on a couple BIG websites (which both sort of veered into some dumb nonsense, which in RPGnet's case is never a surprise.  They could find offense in a candy bar if they tried hard enough..) they got a ton of sales going.

Apparently I just had bad luck and am the only shipping complaint they have gotten.

Yeah.  Yay for my luck.  Another in the many little things that make Christmas suck for me almost every year.

But they communicated with me fast and are willing to fix the problem.  Beats some communication I had with Avalanche Press.  A week ago they had a super awesome sale going on.  Finally checked my finances to see if I could partake.  The sale completely disappeared from their site, with a far more inferior one replacing it.   I sent an email asking what was going on.  A week later and not even a courtesy reply.

After the New Year I might give getting the Witch Girls book another shot.  Avalanche Press as it stands won't ever get ANY of my money or support again.  Customer service MATTERS.

Some Thoughts on Why I Like Tunnels & Trolls

I am sure y'all have read my Tunnels & Trolls review last year: http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2008/09/tunnels-trolls-75-unboxing-and-first.html http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-playtest-review-of-tunnels-trolls.html
And thus know the basics of what the game is and why I like it.

Well, with some rather sad news that a publisher of authorized supplements and magazines may be illegally using other creator's art if not outright adventures, its brought T&T to the forefront of people's minds again. ( I don't feel like linking to it, but RPGnet and Vin's T&T Trollbridge both have 10-70!! page threads with far more info. Plus as of this writing we do not know if said publisher did it intentionally or not. It doesn't look good, but there is still too much missing information at this time to utterly decry the guy. That being said he has a 50% off sale and I won't take advantage of it just because I don't want to support such actions if true.)

At least you crazy types who pay attention to the Internet.

So I might as well say why I like what T&T does!

T&T is an interesting system in that its really the origin of the game systems behind most console RPGs AND its the beginning of narrative less mechanical RPGs.

The combat system really is Japanese Console RPGs' daddy, not D&D. Strong characters are universally BETTER than weak ones. A guy with 100 combat adds will ROCK 10 guys with 10.

However.. if you play miniatures based or your GM has a good eye for where everyone is you can get mad strategic with it. Does 100 guy just wade into all 10 guys which makes it hard for him to win, but if he does he might wipe out 1 or 2 of them, or does he go for a small group ensuring he will kill 3-4 of them? Can the 10 guys set themselves up to attack as a unit so they can wear him down, or do they sacrifice a few, giving the others a chance to each get a couple hits on him?

One thing I love is in the 7.5 rules (now sadly tainted by association with said 2nd publisher who may or may not be guilty of stealing adventures and art..) is that Ken St. Andre himself says "if you aren't houseruling you aren't playing T&T". That's TOTAL old school.

(Isn't that Old School Primer PDF saying "Rulings not RULES"? That's T&T!)

And then you get into the Saving Rolls system which is so Narrative/Old School its not funny. The rulesbook uses an example of 2 weak sad goblins fighting a big billy bad butt troll. By basic game rules they are doomed. No chance. One of the goblin players comes up with a plan involving kicking the troll in his dangly bits. GM says make a Saving Roll Level Y on Attribute X which works. He decides it works and the other goblin can do automatic damage while Mr. Troll his clutching his junk in pain.

That's GOOD GAMIN right there. It is encouraging the players to think creatively instead of just letting pure game mechanics inform them what they can do. I love putting PCs up against mechanically impossible odds and having them win because they can outfox and outthink the bad guys.

T&T encourages this, while D&D 3-4th really discourages it.

Reminds me of an early 3.0 game I ran. I was in TWO solid groups. One as a player the other a DM.

My DMed group was gonna fight a siege where the enemies outnumbered them 20 to 1 AND had a fort. PCs mostly had surprise on their side. I mention the basic fight to the group I played in, which was more mechanical based. (And also we averaged 7 games in 2 months. In 2 years the highest level PC was 6. Good gravy that's entirely too slow!)

They said my players were doomed.

My players OWNED the bad guys. Because they used clever tactics and I rewarded them. (An illusionary meteor bearing down on the fort caused a number of baddies to cower with a chance to save from the illusion each turn. Since goblins are dumb, but after a point even they are gonna be iffy on a 2-3rd level spell..) They kicked tail and I don't think a single PC even went into negative HP.

Tunnels & Trolls WANTS you to do this. It begs you to do this.

And that's why the game impresses the hell out of me.

Its light, fast, yet with just enough crunch to do what it needs to, and simple enough that you can bolt some stuff on if you really want.

So some spell names are silly. Change them maybe?

I mean, for AD&D Ravenloft felt totally different from Forgotten Realms which was totally different from Planescape which was totally different from Dark Sun. Same mechanics, totally different feel.

That's really the only major flaw of T&T. Silly spell names and not much world setting info. The few things that annoy me (like the Spell Resistance rules) can easily be changed with no serious gameplay balance changes.

Its simple enough that there are rules books for doing Spy/Pulp Noir modern day games, Sci Fi, Post Holocaust, and Superheroes and they are 90-95% compatible.

(I plan on reviewing the Post Holocaust one, but as it is by the suspect publisher I will probably wait a little bit so its not like I am joining in on Net Bashing the guy, even though I bought and read the book before I knew of the situation. And my opinion is REALLY negative of the book. Its TERRIBLE. But I do not want to be accused of bias so I will wait a bit.)

That and I love house ruling rules light games because they are so gloriously simple I can add in what I need without breaking the game or adding needless detail.

And making my own rules IS half the fun of gaming after all. Otherwise I would just sit and play Console and Computer RPG and Strategy games which are cheaper to get going and don't require other people. Or even putting on a pair of pants.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Posting Cornucopia of.. STUFF

Why just.. STUFF? Cuz I have a long work week thanks to holiday schedules. And... I can actually use the money. Like really need it. So enjoy a selection of silly things, quick ruminations, and junk like that.

This is what gaming with me gets you:
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CHEESECAKE! Holiday themed Cheesecake, covered up until game day with a plastic lid that still has that sticky glue crap on it. I haven't done anything one could really consider cooking in a LOOOONG time. Like 06 or so. Even this was mostly just a mix. But I mixed it.. WITH LOVE. (And not that kind of love. Sicko.) I tweaked the recipe a bit, adding in some Pumpkin Pie spice for that little something extra. And I dunno how it will be cold and all, but the batter on the blender blades was AWESOME. Seriously. I had the urge to just say "To hell with my diet, to hell with everyone! Imma eatin GOOD tonight baby!". Luckily sanity prevailed. But if its as good in actual chilled cake form as it was in "remaining batter on blender blades and mixing bowl", its gonna ROCK. I put it in an Oreo cookie pie crust, put some soft (ish) peppermint sticks on the top (which I had to break to make it not look odd. I want my decoration to be somewhat symmetrical!) that have a bit of the old PMint action seeping into the cake, and some Christmas Tree candies as extra sprinkled decoration for something that should be festive and tasty.

This is the kind of nice things people who game with me get. Because I am awesome. (Eventually someone will realize it, right?)

This next topic is just a picture I saw on whichever rendition of the Warhammer thread Something Awful is up to now:

Librarian GOB

"Tricks Brother Michael? That's something a Sororitas turns for money. What I do is enforce the Emperor's most holy will made manifest through time and space using me as but a humble vessel for his limitless might!"

The quote is from me. I see a Space Marine Segway and I can't help but think of Arrested Development. That show was awesome.



This is how I sell stuff on Ebay. Personalized descriptions, a fair price that isn't ripping myself or the consumer off, and I am showing I care. With this item I just sold, I think I have passed the 1K mark in things sold in the last few months. Of course much of what I have sold is nerdy things that are seriously wanted by other nerds that I myself do not want anymore, but at least its (for the most part, at least one Ebay seller has bought one of listings to obviously be resold at a higher amount!) going to a good place and I am making money and the purchaser is saving money over MSRP or other Ebay sellers.

I mean I have one of those Magic 15th Anniversary 2 player life counters. I have mine up currently for 30 with a Buy it Now of 50. The only other listings are from a seller who has them in his or her store for 100, 100, and 200 or so each depending on color.

I am selling my nerd stuff I don't want and taking up space to my brother and sister nerds and I hope it shows. I even put little personalized notes in most of my items.

Those Orks? They went in under 5 minutes, though it was to someone in an IRC Chatroom I have Ops in (#tinypewtermen in the irc.synirc.org channel. SA Goon Warhams talk. Or as some say: "Cpt Rufus' personal sperg arena". I talk a lot.) who wanted em so bad he is willing to pay shipping to Australia. So my Orks get to visit Kangaroos and Koalas! He has done a pretty good job converting AT 43 Type 3 infantry suits to Ork Killa Kanz so I expect him to do the same to my "counts as" ones!

Actually I had quite a bit of interest in the channel as I was asking for price advice and such on the Boyz. I just ended up going with something a little under what I paid for them. I think. I've been buying the Orks off and on since.. 99? 2 sets of Gorkamorka (1 of which was a free gift for a year's subscription to White Dwarf, back when you got something good for subscribing AND the magazine had useful game information instead of being a commercial you pay for.), a couple trades here and there, and the odd massively good deal on ebay. I am SOOO gonna miss those Night Goblins converted to Gretchin.

But the way I look at it, I need cash for other fun things I want. (And bills. OH GOD BILLS.) I am not using the stuff, so why not pass it on, and if I can make a few bucks doing so? ROCK ON.

And I had another epiphany at the disastrous 40K game last week where my World Eaters using the Blood Angels PDF codex were the Japanese Schoolgirl to the Eldar's Naughty Tentacle Demon. (And just what is it with those Tentacle Demons? You would think they would find a nice lady tentacle demon far more attractive than some icky human. Are they like the Furries of the Demon World? Shunned and mocked by being freaks who don't find their own species that attractive?)

See I mostly play 40K for the fun of it. Its not a particularly well designed game. Its not a particularly well balanced game. Its in no way, shape, or form a particularly CHEAP game. Or even moderately priced. I like to make odd and silly lists that do odd and silly things.

But because I had Orks, Eldar, Tau, World Eaters/Blood Angels, Chaos Marines, Tyranids, and Imperial Guard I was spending what 40K money I had on bits and pieces of each army, never really gaining any skill or competence with them, and not really having enough models to do various strategies and army builds. So I was totally Barding it all out. Jack of all trades, master of none. I keep forgetting what units do, and even forgetting rules while playing. Its too many armies for one game.

Sure my Imperial Guard are mostly just a dual duty with my AT 43 games so they kind of get a pass. But the others? My Eldar are so haphazard and unfocused they seem to have eternally sucked since 3rd edition. My Tau are boring and tedious to play. I find Orks funny but I seem to maybe play them once or twice a YEAR at best. I love my Nids because I love the Alien movies (even the god awful ones. Its like Jaws. Its got XENOMORPHS IN IT. I can't help myself!) and I have enough to be flexible. My Chaos army is so old now its massively flexible too. My World Eaters/BA can mostly be used with my Chaos for insanely large Apocalypse games.

Not to mention my Ork and Tau army builds can mostly be replicated in my other armies. So why even keep them? I can pay some bills or get some stuff I might actually USE, and get more enjoyment out of the armies I do want to keep. I mean I love my Eldar even though I can't seem to win a single game with them unless I play Stinky Kid. (I'll get to him in a later post.)

See one thing I have learned the last few years whilst stupidly draining my bank account (not always on goofy junk, sometimes its bills I never knew of or expected, or emergencies, or just not realizing all those little coffees and such really do put a hit on the ol' finances!) is that while I may HAVE more stuff, I spend LESS time with each purchase and I get far less enjoyment out of them.

You know those god awful videogames we all bought as kids? In some cases we still loved them and have fond memories of them. Because its all we had so by golly we were gonna beat em and get our money's worth! And we had time and reread favorite books and comics. And even replayed our games just out of the love of it.

We had less and appreciated more.

Its why I am cutting waaaay down on what I buy. I now ask myself if I REALLY want it. Do I need it now? What use will I get out of it? If I wait a while can I get it cheaper down the line?

And the latter is a BIG thing. Do I need to play that hot new videogame NOW, or can I wait a year or two and instead of spending 60, spend 20 instead? I mean, is a great game less great if I wait a year or two? I've got more games to play now than I will ever finish as is!

Something to think about.

Well, I probably won't get time to make another update till after the Thanksgiving weekend so have a great holiday if you celebrate it and your job doesn't force you to work it to amuse the sad horrible people who do not!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review Corner: Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Ironclad Dreadnought by Games Workshop

Well the times, they are a changing. As is the purpose of my blog. While I will talk more about this in December, stuff like what y'all get today is part of the new intent. More reviews and information you can use. While some will not care about all the details I get into in my typically wordy style, I want to cover all the bases and give you, my reader, the most information possible.

So let's get this comic review started. (Note: A small minority whine they can't read my text. Either use an image zooming feature nearly every OS has now, or get your eyes checked. I can even read it on an iPod Touch with minimal zooming. I know people have read them on 12" mid 90s monitors. I've read them on 2 different sized iMac widescreens.)

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A minor bit I missed in the review was scaling the model against a normal object like a CD or DVD case. Our little plastic bundle of overpriced joy stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and is about 3 inches wide. Its smaller than a 10 dollar Transformer at Wal Mart. And it doesn't even turn into a truck.

Edit: CURSES! I reread the damned comic twice to pick up grammatical errors and to do some text and box reformats. And I still missed a misspelled word. Its articulation, not whatever the hell word I apparently came up with. Sigh. Its like every comic I do is doomed to have at least 1 wrong word someplace.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Speaking of Corporate Douchebags..

http://www.tabletopgamingnews.com/2009/11/12/31361

For those too lazy to point and click: Games Workshop, known for being buttfaces to both customers and retailers have begun embarking on their latest way to piss off their fanbase. Going after fansites that have been keeping the flame alive IS NOT COOL.

Hell, Games Workshop will go after online retailers who dare post PICTURES of their products to sell saying it violates their Intellectual Property.

Really?

Isn't there this thing called "Fair Use"?

Is posting a picture of a box or the odd scan from a GW product or even fanart or fangames actually a threat to Games Workshop's ownership of their IP?

Do lawyers and Copyright law have any common sense? Do courts have any damned logic or sense?

(Actually no, but let me dream a little that people aren't ignorant buttweasels, if only for a little while, ok?)

I mean, its bad enough Palladium pulls some of these sorts of shenanigans basically harassing and boning people who are basically GIVING YOUR PRODUCTS FREE ADVERTISING BECAUSE THEY LOVE WHAT YOU MAKE OR MADE.

This is especially notable in the most recent bouts of Cease and Desists GW has sent as most are to RPG and Blood Bowl sites, products Games Workshop barely acknowledges they or one of their licensees produce. The fans are doing more for those products than the company that produces them!

Maybe my non law degree self is all dumb and stuff, but shouldn't there be some happy middle ground where someone else's IP can be discussed, shown, and enjoyed by the people without having to make sure its approved by the IP holder?

Its not like it actually affects the ownership of or the profits of the IP holder in many fan project/site type cases. Posting up PDFs of army books? Sure that's butt. Making a program to play Blood Bowl online or fanart or conversion rules projects? No.

If that sort of stuff was a threat Squaresoft and Capcom would be out of business instead of selling millions of copies of some of their games and tons of merchandise (including THREE dedicated SKUs to a 150 dollar joystick designed to play on ONE system and primarily for ONE game... see today's other gripey rant!) even though fans draw fanart, have websites, sometimes even dress up as the characters and play the piano. Hell, people draw comics showing the characters largely doin it (and since much of that output is from Japan doin it generally seems to mean rape. DAMMIT JAPAN STOP BEING CREEPY AND VILE!) and sell em at fan conventions and it doesn't affect the companies' bottom lines or the understanding who the characters actually belong to.

Heck, a North American publisher put out a pricey art book covering one of Capcom's more nichey fighting game series and it sold so well they are planning on doing more comics about the game.

Fan projects just don't cause the troubles lawyers seem to act like they do.

Yet fighting against the fanstuff? That does.

Maybe by the law GW and their ilk are in the right.

But by all common sense and decency they are wrong. Fox News wrong.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yay Sony! Corporate Speak for the Lose!

Some backstory: I bought a Playstation 3. I bought it used for 30 bucks more than a new smaller machine that uses less power and has a smaller form factor yet a bigger hard drive all so I could have a model with backwards compatibility letting me play my 60 or so Playstation 2 titles I have bought for the machine since I got it in THE YEAR 2000.

Well thanks to toy collectors having far too much cash on their hands I am selling stuff I choose no longer to have out of lack of space, lack of love, and embarrassment for having toys in the first place at my age I have lots of money for fun things.

So as I have a good 20 arcade styled PS2 titles ranging from classic SHMUPS to Fighters to arcade retrocollections I decide that 150 dollars for a good PS3 arcade stick is a nice thing and its a great time to do it.

My first mistake was not doing enough research on either of my 2 stick purchases. My first for 150 and since returned was the Tekken 6 Limited Edition box with game, wireless stick, and a pretty art book. Reports on the stick said it constantly cut out on people, the buttons died fast, and it was certainly not worth its cost as part of the box. Time wasted on 40K day to return it and I didn't get to play 40K at all. Oh, and the manual with the stick THAT WASN'T MENTIONED ON THE BOX AT ALL said it didn't work with PS2 games at all.

So I spent more time getting the stick everyone seems to respect if not love (hardcore fighting game fans are SCARY PEOPLE), the Madcatz Street Fighter 4 Tournament Edition stick. Which is 150 bucks just for the stick. (The Tekken 6 threw a nice artbook and the game in the box. )

I had heard people say it did work with PS2 games but on Madcatz website after I had it in my home it said it did not.

AWESOME.

So I sent myself a little email to Sony customer support asking for any info. Below is my message and the wonderfully corporate lamespeak I got in return. (I'm bold. Sony's response is in Italics.)

Ok. I have a 60 gig backwards compatible PS3. I have a decade's worth of PS2 titles I would love to play on the machine. But fighting games just don't work well with the Dual Shock controllers and never have. So I bought a Madcatz Street Fighter 4 TE joystick for a 150 dollars, a VERY substantial amount of money for me.

And.. it will not work with PS2 games with no visible reason, and Madcatz' FAQ says "maybe when Sony does an update".

When is this update due? It should take a programmer about a half hour or LESS to make the joystick work as it works on my iMac with NO issues whatsoever, and it works fine and dandy on PS3 and PS1 titles on the machine.

So do you guys have a date for this?
If not I need to return this stick as I bought it to use with PS2 titles. I have 20 PS2 games that would work wonderfully with this arcade stick yet for some reason it does not.

If I am gonna be forced to play my arcade favorites on MAME I certainly won't bother with a 150 dollar PS3 stick!

I have a LEGITIMATE collection of games, an expensive console, and an expensive joystick.

So when will I be able to use it?


Ok. Seems like a fair question right? I am a consumer who wishes to know why something so goshdarn SIMPLE isn't working as it should. I mean, is there any reason for a USB stick my iMac picks up and plays without any issues to not work on the system it is dedicated to? I mean the stick has toggle switches so you can use it as any of the 3 directional controllers present on the PS3's Dual Shock/Sixaxis controllers which work fine with PS2 games. Is there any logical or valid reason the stick is ignored by PS2 software?

None anyone with half a brain can see. Maybe some programmer out there could tell me why not. (Of course for 150 bucks the stick should work on the 360 as well but Sony and Microsoft have little proprietary shenanigans going on so the USB controllers have to be properly vetted for each machine. Meaning if you want to play on both you either need to buy 2 150 dollar sticks, or spend some time and money getting fan made circuit boards and some skill with soldering irons and power tools to mod it yourself. Oh for the days when almost every system but the NES and PCs used the same joystick port and you at least got single button and stick control on them all..)

But here is the wonderful corporate BS reply Sony sent me I have been promising for a couple paragraphs now:


We apologize for the delayed response regarding your request. We apologize for the inconvenience. Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) has not released any details concerning the product, project, or development referenced in your email. SCEA and its affiliated companies are regularly engaged in extensive research and development in many areas of the computer entertainment industry. Hence, we cannot comment on future PlayStation(R) developments, projects, or products. We appreciate your enthusiasm and continued interest in our products, and hope you understand our position. You may however, visit our website at http://www.us.playstation.com/ and view our current press releases and future updates.


Yeah. That sure helps you buttweasels. I had to go to the Playstation website for the contact info in the first place. I don't read Kotaku for its intelligent commentary. I go there because its all the dumb game news I might want. No I do NOT understand their position. Either tell me "we have no plans for this in the foreseeable future" which while annoying is at least HONEST, or if they are working on it or mulling it over "We are working on this issue but do not currently have an arrival time for it".

That's clear and not a pile of nonsense which tells me nothing and pisses me off more than a simple "we have no plans to correct this issue". (Which while INCREDIBLY DOUCHEY OF A SOLUTION, its at least at least calling a spade a frakkin spade.)

So now I have a 150 dollar stick which I can use for a handful of PS1 arcade type games that don't look like a mess of 2nd generation polygon barf (something PS1 3D games are entirely wont to be), and a handful of fighters on the PS3 I really don't want (outside of the upcoming Street Fighter 4 2nd edition game with more dudes and dudettes I won't play because I refuse to use anyone other than the first lady of fighters Chun Li!), and a handful of Playstation Network purchases of old arcade games I already have on collections that run on my PS3 but Sony has decreed I should be forced to use their mediocre control pad for. While the Dual Shock series have a fair D pad and decent enough face buttons (and now really nice shoulder buttons), its not good enough for fighters or a proper home arcade experience. And for general modern gaming their analog sticks are unsatisfying to be generous. (The 360 has far superior analog sticks. Your thumbs rest in them. Which I prefer. Concave is superior to convex.)

I am 35 and I love classic arcade titles and my tour in the Navy was the early 90s when thanks to Street Fighter 2 arcades had their final glory days. I want to bring that experience home and am happy to pay the cash to do so in a satisfying and easy experience. (Its why I mainly use Macs for computing and consoles for gaming. I aint got time for nonsense!)

But as it stands I either return the stick and feel like a doofus, or I keep it and use the Mame emulator to play games I already own, but have to deal with the questionable legality of downloading ROMs that don't always friggin work.

Instead of say, popping Fatal Fury Archives into my PS3, selecting Fatal Fury 2 or Special, and kicking patootie with my homeboy Terry Bogard. Or throwing Namco Museum in and getting some Rolling Thunder, Dig Dug, or Galaga action in. Or Taito Legends 1 and 2 and getting my Bubble Bobble, Bust A Move, and Elevator Action fix.

This is the future dammit. I have a pocket sized supercomputer that can take pictures, play music, surf the web, make phone calls, be a GPS roadmap, and play games of near Dreamcast level quality and technical sophistication.

Is it really THAT hard to make a dedicated console joystick that works with every type of software that console runs and its default controller is happy with?

Really?

I guess Dark Helmet was right.

"Even in the future nothing works!"



PS: Its sad when NINTENDO seems to let almost everything be playable on the Wii. Nearly every Gamecube game and Gamecube accessory works on the Wii plus most games and their Virtual Console retro catalog of downloadable games not only work, but you have multiple control options for most of them. I'm hoping the Madcatz lower end fighting stick will come out for the Wii as they have planned. Not only can I use it to have Tekkaman Blade fight Mega Man, I should be able to play NES Contra and Castlevania with it. If they can just make old Gameboy titles playable either via purchased download or a new Gameboy/DS player like the Gamecube had. Hell do both! I've been wanting Game Boy Donkey Kong since I first played it on an original DEATH TO YOUR EYEBALLS V1 Gameboy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Movie Review/Game Ideas: Paranormal Activity

WARNING WARNING! Spoilers ahead. It is recommended you either watch the movie first, or don't care about having the whole thing spoiled. Last chance to back out jerky!

IM SERIOUS. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT STOP READING IT NOW DOOFUS!

(Edited at 11PM November 3rd with some direct gaming ideas.)

I saw the movie earlier today, without knowing anything other than that it was a horror film, its name, and it was made on the cheap. I hadn't seen any reviews or previews or anything. (I got rid of everything but Basic Cable a few months back which I don't actually watch anyhow.)

Its a movie that builds dread and you have to at least have a suspension of disbelief about it all.

The basic plot and synopsis
Our story involves a young twentysomething couple, Katie and Micah. Katie is a graduate student working on becoming a teacher while Micah is a day trader apparently doing really well as they have a very nice house in San Diego California. Katie has been having weird occurrences happen to her and Micah buys a very expensive camera and audio setup to try to get it all on tape. Come to find out Katie has been harassed by a mostly unseen entity since she was a child, and believes it to have caused her childhood home to have been destroyed.

The film is done from the viewpoint of this camera, ala "Blair Witch Project" and "Cloverfield" two movies I really like.

Micah's filming causes additional friction to the couple, and an early discussion with a psychic reveals it is most likely a demon not a ghost, and that it is actively following Katie. He recommends consulting a Demonologist, and Micah's early skepticism and failure to heed the psychic's warnings that it feeds off negative energy merely antagonizes the entity whose actions amp up more and more through their 3 week ordeal.

Later on as they are low on sleep and their nerves continue to fray more and more they make even more mistakes even as the evidence mounts. Now unable to get a hold of the Demonlogist they were recommended the demon apparently possesses Katie, kills Micah, then looks at and attacks the camera facefirst.

Now on to my thoughts about the movie and some thoughts about some folks' comments on the movie.
Yeah one of our two leads did some dumb things. Early on because he like most of us would be a skeptic. Later on he wanted to handle it MAN STYLE. By the time he realized the threat it was too late and he was so sleep and emotionally drained he did idiotic things.

You have to empathize with the characters and actually care about them. If you go all "its just a movie blah!" of course you won't like it. If you need special effects and to see everything you won't like it either. I liked Blair Witch and Cloverfield and I like this sort of movie. (I am a huge fan of the original Dracula novel too, so I sort of like this "from the character's point of view" thing.)

Plus the style is raw and leaves you drained and empty. Even with this apparently derided ending you are left MESSED UP by the experience. And I actually like the demon coming up and attacking the camera. Its the demon's way of saying "Hello mortals. You cannot stop me. I will invade you in your homes. I cannot be contained, controlled, or reasoned with. I have all the power. And I have a body. I am coming. For you."

And that's chilling. Hell, I even yelled out "Word that rhymes with TRUCK!" even though I knew what was coming up next. It was a mostly sparse audience, but 655 PM on a Connecticut November Monday isn't going to be a packed house, especially with the amount of showings it was getting. (And the theater staff commenting most of their business this day was for the movie.)

If I was a character in the film I certainly would have done things differently, but even as a skeptic on the supernatural, I am not a disbeliever either. I know enough to know I don't know enough. Plus I would be (outside of being doomed to die via possessed lady) lucky to have a lot of cash for a nice house and an attractive lady. How some of people can not find her attractive (and even call her fat!) is beyond me. She could be any woman you meet in the real world.

So I really liked it but can understand some people would not like it. Folks who need constant action or who nitpick EVERY stupid thing characters do in movies or folks who only want REALISTIC films. (I knew a pit boss at the casino I worked at who was proud to have never seen Star Wars as he wanted "reality" in his entertainment. I wonder if he realized he worked in an industry based around a complete LACK of reality..)

But to each their own. Nobody is gonna like everything. Hell, each of us should realize everything we adore and hold dear is utterly despised by someone else out there.

Why some folks seem to have spent the last 2 weeks posting about how much they hate the movie leaves me baffled though.

Most of the audience I was with liked it, though a few didn't. A couple folks were either coughing, laughing, or shrieking around the 3/4ths mark of the film but I just ignored it.

The two characters are well acted and you generally feel bad for their plight and wish you could help them and warn them of some of their more foolish actions. (A Quija board? Yeah. Dumb move there. I am not sure I believe in the supernatural, but I know well enough that YOU. DO. NOT. USE. A. QUIJA. BOARD. EVER.) The practical special effects were all well done and if there were any CGI effects I really could not tell, though some of them had to be given the 15,000 dollar budget I have heard the film cost.

But have you ever got that feeling in your eyes when the supernatural is discussed or you read a tale about the spectral unknown? Where you begin to tear up a little around the edges, and you want to leave all the lights on, you know.. "Just in case"?

This movie did that for me. if you like films with a sense of dread and not big showy special effects productions, I highly recommend this movie.

I do kinda want to run a Call of Cthulhu game as a sequel to this though. It leaves with a nice hook. (Or New World of Darkness Mortals. The trail could lead to a.. special place. A Silent Hill perhaps? :pyramidhead:

(Yeah that's a cheesy idea but it could work if done right. And the right player group.)

What really did happen to Katie? Is she still possessed? Where has she gone? Has the demon altered her, slowly warping her flesh into a proper host for a demon? Is her soul still within her body? Did she have to watch her boyfriend being murdered by her, powerless to do anything? Did she not know, but was then shown its handiwork afterwards? What is the demon doing NOW? Is it going to possess others? Is it bridging a gateway to bring other demons across? Could Katie just be a latent psychic whose powers she has no control over? What if for brief instances she can retake control of her body?

An entire adventure or campaign could be created answering those questions above. And the film itself is a great example of setting a proper mood for a horror game. It starts off basically normal, with even some jokes. Then the night comes. Things get worse and worse each night. Sanity frays causing foolish actions to be taken. The feeling of helplessness and dread descends upon you. Then, a brief instance of terror with most left to your imagination. And it ends. You have no answers, no denouement. In fact, you have more questions than answers.

And you know, it does not care about locked doors. It will visit you. In your sleep. Just because. And it feeds off your suffering and pain. And you cannot stop it. If it wants you, it will have you. And it can wait.

Pleasant dreams.

(Some game ideas below.. if you can sleep after seeing it. I must say I had.. difficulties in sleeping. I wasn't scared but the movie wouldn't leave my mind, nor that final bit..)

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay/40K Roleplay.

The basic concept would work great in either line. A young couple connected to a semi important merchant or noble has gone missing with a basic log or servoskull readout telling the basics of what happened. If playing a game as the aftermath to the events it will be time to hunt down and purge the demon with cleansing fire and blade. (Some chain powered if its 40K.) In the Warhammer universe the demon is clearly either Tzeentch or Slaanesshi in origin. It either possessed Katie to further its plans, or just because it enjoys feeding on pain and negative emotions, something Slaaneshi demons love.

(As an aside, how come every Warhammer Slaanesh fan merely fixates on the sexual side of things? Slaanesh is about emotion and passion and senses. Not just URF URF SPLUT...)

Now that it has a body, what will it do with it? Perhaps the Tzeentch demon will use her money and minor influence to put plans into motion, perhaps fleeing the planet/region and going where it can cause great harm and nobody will really find out that Katie is missing and wanted for murder. If Slaaneshi, she will probably form dark cults in either universe, seducing other young nobles and bringing them into her dark ways.

The hunt could involve investigations, explorations of tombs or now daemon infested starships, it could have big battles in the deep underhives.

And if you want to use the events in the movie itself directly and change things? Howabout a noble asking the PCs to protect Katie and find out what is haunting her. Perhaps she is a latent psyker? Witch Hunters and Inquisitors will need to be blunted from her as their main answer will be to kill her and let the Emperor/Sigmar sort it all out. Can the PCs save Katie and her macho yet problem escalating fiancee? Or will they just make things worse? Why is she being harassed? Is there a cult behind it? Does Katie's family hide a dark secret?

Similar ideas could be used in many Palladium games, World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu, Legend of the Five Rings, D&D, and even lighter games like Kobolds Ate My Baby! or Ghostbusters.

(Though it would be lighter and funnier in those cases. Perhaps Katie is possessed by Vor who is angry at Micah for being such a doofus and he then decides she could make a fun way of smiting annoying Kobolds. He can send his avatar to do it for them and eat the furry little blighters without having to constantly look at what stupid things they are doing, and have the fun of watching a human devour them live. In Ghostbusters maybe the demon is a bored spirit who was a teacher and just doesn't think Micah is a good fit. Perhaps its less scary and more amusing in its actions. Maybe instead of killing him, the demon just gives him nightly wedgies and messes up his stock trades. (I know if I were a demon haunting a young woman I wouldn't want her with such a yuppie bro type either. Especially when he does stupid things to annoy me directly!))

See? One short movie leads to a ton of inspiration for adventures if not entire campaigns.

The fact its a darn spooky movie just makes it all the better!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Argh Painting Takes TOO LONG (Plus Game Organization Tips from Me to You)

Yeah. This took me about SIX FREAKING HOURS:

100_1525

The process I used:

1: Spray both sides of the model using Krylon Fusion (Dark Brown I think).
2: Paint arms and face using Citadel Foundation Tallarn Flesh.
3: Paint helmet and torso armor using mid 90s era Citadel Colour Brazen Brass.
4: Paint spear tips using mid 90s era Citadel Colour Chainmail.
5: Paint helmet plume with Citadel Foundation Mordian Blue.
6: Paint grey rocks with Valejo Game Color Cold Grey.
7: Cover flat part of model base with mid 90s era Citadel Colour Vomit Brown.
8: Dip wet base paint into Tupperwear style tub of Woodland Scenics ballast. (Forget exact name.)
9: Use Vomit Brown around edge of model base.
10: Paint gloves black. Paint back of shields black. Paint Tail and Hooves Black.
11: Use new Citadel Washes Ogryn Flesh on the fleshy bits and the grey rocks. (Should have used Badab Black wash on the rocks looking back. I might go do that if I go back and drybrush the tails sometime.)
12: Drybrush mid 90s era Citadel Colour (man do those old paints store well or WHAT?) Snakebite Leather on the brown horsey bits.
13: Glue shield on.
14: Tape up pegs on the formation trays.
15: Spraypaint with Krylon Fusion tan(or light brown.. I dunno) over the trays. Once dry pull off masking tape or regular old clear tape.
16: Wonder why it took so damned long for such little models and feel bad because there is more detail to the minis I just skipped painting because I am lazy.

I need to learn how to paint faster and nicer because this whole box of nearly 200 minis needs some painting done to it:
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15 Roman Spearmen/Shieldwall and 15 Egyptian Archers not shown due to Krylon Fusion/primer drying

Luckily the rares and uncommons mostly just need a nice Badab Black Citadel Wash and my favorite quickie base flocking method as I described.

But notice that Plano case? That's a great way to store your Arcane Legions minis, as well as many other minis. In Arcane Legion's case especially since I want to paint and flock the bases we need a quick way of determining the model's ID codes. Thus I size the models with some room to breathe/grow, and put a piece of semitransparent tape on the spot above the model's new home and write down the code. (If I had a label writer I could really get fancy!) If I buy more boosters I have room for extras, and the tape lets me remove it and resize in the future if I choose to spread things out a bit more and go to 2 cases.

The things are a pretty good deal for under 5 bucks for this sized one, and the variable slot setup lets me fit things better.

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