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.





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!




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:

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?


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.
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.


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