Sunday, February 23, 2014

BASH Con 2014: Goblins, Froggies, and Wolves Oh My!

Despite what Robin has to say, here is my phantasmagorical account of Bash Con 2014. Better late than never, and I do feel tardy.

This was the first year the Boy attended for the entire weekend. With his increasing interest in T&T via Kopfy's online games and our continued home games playing around with my Stay Alive! rules, he was very eager and excited to have 3 days of gaming. It is really all he talked about for about 2 weeks leading up to the weekend. The attendance at the convention seemed to be pretty consistent all weekend. I did not attend the auction games bazaar this year due to the fact that it has increasingly become a waste of time over the past few. More and more people seem to think it is funny to put in absurd and non-gaming related items while the convention staff do nothing to try to restrict or curb this. Alas - I guess I will be content with the Gen Con auction from here on out.

The exhibit hall are in the smaller end of the "T" section.
One half of the rest of the hall.
The only game of the night was Kopfy's annual T&T game and it did not start until 8pm. I picked the boy up from school and went back home to continue painting some miniatures and planning for my games on Saturday and Sunday. The Boy converted my old rain coat into his duster and had his cowboy hat ready to go for his attire. We arrived about an hour early knowing well enough from experience that registration at BASH Con can be hit or miss, normally "miss" but lately "hit".

Dan H was finally able to make the trek from southern Ohio and join us. Since Robin, the Boy, and I all have had the same characters for a few years now, I was concerned about Dan's character starting from scratch. More information on that game can be found on Kopfy's blog; no need to really just restate the finer points already covered. The map lead to a goblin lair that was promised to have some wealth to pilfer, but we were ambushed and taken captive. Robin's spell more than likely saved our arses by beguiling the goblin king enough to offer us a way out of being put on spits and roasted for dinner, unless gobbos like their meat raw and still squirming.

The most fun of the night was the setup revolving around a caravan guard that liked to brag about his amazing exploits who had a map to a treasure. The boy's character Curly pick pocketed the map after we provided the owner with plenty of free alcohol. After getting a good look at it, the group then tried to convince Curly to put the map back so the owner would be none the wiser, but he refused. Comedy ensued in the morning when the group heard the man wake up and storm down the stairs yelling about his missing map. Dan's character eventually convinced him to look in his room again and we finally got Curly to throw the map on the floor in the corner so it could be found.

Despite the Boy's adamant desires, I just wanted to get my tired arse home for some sleep knowing I needed to get up early to get miniatures and such together for my games on Saturday.

Got up early on Saturday to get my miniatures packed and jot down some final notes on my game in the AM which would be a variant on my 'Stay Alive! Gaslight, starting adventure, "The Gathering". The one nice thing I have found with running the same adventure multiple times for different groups is that I can try alternate scenarios in the base story to see which works best. The Gathering is based on a group of strangers traveling by train to Toledo where they are to meet a mysterious benefactor who is inviting them to join him and his larger group with the task of hunting monsters. The Boy played a roguish former outlaw character. Dan H was back and playing a NYC cop (much to the chagrin of the Boy whose outlaw became paranoid about the lawman) with some experience with the supernatural during his day job. Susie (I believe) was back from last year when she played in my zombie game. Her character's background with monsters was that her father had been mysteriously killed with no capture or evidence of his killer. She has learned in her dealings that the monsters exist and she had taken on the crusade to fight them.

This time around, the train was in the process of being robbed buy a group of bandits. Susie's character saw some mounted riders in the distance on horseback alongside the train with some extra horses. The boy was snooping around the train looking for the baggage car so he could do some thieving. He did find an American Army guarded car with a locked safe room. He was dense enough to keep asking questions to the point of almost being detained by the soldier. Dan picked up on the suspicious actions of two other gentlemen on the train. The train lurched as one of the outlaws on the train disappeared from the car and then reappeared having detached the last few cars from the rest of the train.

Dan quickly drew his sidearm and shot the 1st outlaw in the arm, then handcuffing him. The other began shooting it out with the Boy and Susie. The fight eventually drew in the other 2 outlaws on horseback, both the Boy and Susie climbing to the roofs of some cars to get better vantage points. One of the soldiers from the safe car was gunned down, but all the outlaws were captured or killed and eventually, they arrive in Toledo. The rest of the adventure involved another group of bad guys representing an opposing bad guy group taking over the benefactors mansion and attempting to capture and kill the players by making them believe they were the staff and man of the house. The did fight a Jeckyl/Hyde type creature I call the 'Mega-Man'.

I talked with Dan at length after the game as he was heading back to Athens right away. I had given him a copy of my Stay Alive Lite book while he gave me a copy of his House in the Hills. Lunch with fellow Toledoans Garry and Mike, along with Kopfy, Robin, The Boy, and Paul at Phoenicia. Lots of talk about tanks and guns and artillery that was lost on me for the most part. 

The afternoon game was Robin's Qalidar game where we continued an adventure that myself and Kopfy originally started at the Holiday Game Bash in December 2013. After the Boy, Paul, and Kopfy chose their characters, I unknowingly picked the same character I had in December. I guess I am drawn to characters that are good at long distance fighting. We portaled to another world where we were looking to continue the fight against and illegal organ trafficking organization. A few froggie looking guards were waiting on the other side and threatened us to go back the way we came. A firefight ensued with the froggie armor absorbing much of our attacks. We eventually dropped one and overwhelmed the other into surrendering, offering him a trip through the gate to avoid a bad fate from his employer for failure. The rest of the adventure we kind of bungled as we ignored all the clues to get more information in the town, found our way into the facility with stolen ID cards and subterfuge, and then wondered around until we alerted some guards and found ourselves trapped in a closet and having to fight our way back out of the building.

Dinner at the Phoenicia again after walking to the food court to find our only options were Subway or Magic Wok. Kopfy and I were both dragging and kind of dreading our evening games. Paul and the Boy were set to playing Kopfy's Crawlspace game. I had one player show up for my T&T game, so I decided to have him create a character then run him through Dan's 'House in the Hills' solo adventure. We spent a half hour creating his character and getting him equipped only to have him lose all his belongings at the start of Dan's solo. The character is waylaid by bandits and chased by wolves to a lonely but magically haunted house in the middle of nowhere. I plan on writing a full review of House in the Hills in a future edition of Meandering Monsters. This was Dan's first published solo and I think it was one of the best I have ever played for T&T. More importantly, the player liked the game and had said he hoped to return next year for our annual Friday night game. He meticulously recopied his updated character on a new character sheet after the adventure. He also picked up on the APs for T&T, jotting down his experience with every roll and taking any opportunity to level up an attribute when he could.

2nd Dinner was at Applebees with the Boy, Kopfy, Robin, and Paul. I am always happy when Red Dwarf is worked into a conversation. The Boy continued to profess his admiration for his fake 'Uncle Tom'. I ate far too much and once we got home, did not have the energy to unpack and get ready for the next morning's AD&D game.

My annual AD&D game was the normal crowd; no newbies or younger kids for the first time. Kopfy reprised his role as the werebear berserking Kraze, the Boy as his barbarian Lorian, Garry was back playing both halfling brothers Gill and his normal Bill, and Robin switched to a thief acrobat/mage. The adventure started with the group being attacked in a waterside bar by some old enemies, a faction of evil monks. Two evil looking wizards seemed to have bet on outcome. The monks were dipping and flipping with some added ninja evades that I gave them to be a bit more of a challenge. The leader type (we called him Lo Pan ala Big Trouble in Little China) was floating around and watching his minions until Robin decided to throw some magic missiles at him. Kopfy eventually charged his opponent, rolled a fumble on the attack, and awkwardly lost his balance running into the path of Lo Pan...then bear hugging him and tossing him into a hole in the bar that lead to the surf. I love it when the bad guys get away to fight another day.

Being a convention game, the party was offered an 'exorbitant' amount of money, half of which up front, to help one of the mages win a follow-up bet, which was to retrieve an item from a Frost Giant in distant frozen mountain range. They would be competing against another group more than likely hired by the other magey dude. They were given a magical dial that would allow them to group teleport to the mountain range and then one return trip.

My finished 'Remorhaz' miniature, from the Reaper Bones line.
Arriving on the mountain after a night's rest and such, the players immediately see their apparent destination: a cave mouth up a distance in the foothills. Seeing a blur of red in the snow ahead, investigation finds an eviscerated body of a barbarian, cleaved in two with only one half remaining. Some icy trails are also seen in the area around. On edge and on guard, the party are then attacked by a surfacing Remorhaz, or frost wyrm. The Boy and Kopfy charge in directly taking the fight to the wyrm. The halflings provided some support with ranged weapons while Robin continued her spell casting, but finding the beast's 75% MR a bit daunting. The beast was defeated and a few chunks were bitten out of both characters. The Boy did more damage, but Kopfy delivered the final blow: this was the source of the next scene with the two characters arguing over who killed the beast. Robin cast a 'Phantasmal Force' of a frost giant coming down the mountain which briefly distracted them. They soon continued their argument and eventually Garry had one of his halflings cast a hold spell on the Boy which proved successful.

A search of the wyrm's carcasse found a second body of the competing party in its belly, with some additional magical weapons and equipment gathered. The hold spell eventually wore off which prompted the two fighters to start arguing again. Robin and the halflings growing tired of the shtick progressed up the hillside toward the cave mouth. The halflings lead the way, both invisible and softly making their way up the slope. The heavier footsteps of Robin behind them alerted the Frost Giant hiding beneath the snow of their approach. He burst out of the snow bank with a boulder in hand. Robin landed hard, but right in front of the giant while the halflings rolled down the hill to relative safety. A boulder flung and skipping heavily off of the Boy's shoulder finally broke the fighters from their argument and they both advanced on the new threat.

Quickly, Robin used her Dimension Door (psionic) to move directly behind the giant on the cave's ledge. She cast a Slow spell on the giant, but then realized that behind her was another icy breath - a large ice troll. With the giant now at her back, she cast another illusion spell that successfully kept the troll in a distracted trance, but it required her undivided attention to keep it in place. If the giant turned on her, she would be vulnerable. The giant however focused his attention on the charging fighters, both racing to see who would be the one to take the credit for killing the giant. Even with the brute strength and a large sword at his disposal, the Slow spell cast by Robin and the two fighters proved to be too much for the large man to handle. After the giant fell, the rest of the group noticed Robin's pyrotechnic display and rushed up the slope and quickly dispatched the troll, eventually burning the beast so that it could not regenerate.

Into the cave as the game ended, a chained baby white dragon was found, eagerly trying to get at the tied and bound 3rd member of the opposing band of adventurers. The item that was being retrieved was a withered and magical hand of legend, that of the wizard Vecna. Garry's halfling immediately tried to douse the hand with a flammable liquid and set it on fire, but it had no affect. Knowing full well the evil power they now possessed, they started talking about how and where to destroy it. 

We will pick up next year right where we have left off.

Arrangements were made to meet up for lunch, Garry and his friend from his writing group joining us at a Mexican place. The Boy asked Kopfy what 'PACCIO' stood for in Spanish. We had a good laugh at that one. Good company and fun discussions about games and conventions and soccer and such ensued.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gaslight - New Miniatures

Painting miniatures consistently has unfortunately become a lesser priority for me as I continue to try to push out releases for Darkshade Publishing and run games for the kids. In our most recent game it became apparent that my stock of painted 19th Century type miniatures are lacking.

I did go through a faze a few years back where I was running Rippers, which is a Gaslight/Victorian Horror campaign setting originally designed for the Savage Worlds system. The original adventures I wrote/ran for those games are the inspiration for my current Stay Alive! Gaslight game, removing the specific hooks that were original to the Rippers setting.

I dug out some miniatures that I bought and had stored away. Blue Moon Manufacturing have some wonderful products for this type of setting. If you are interested, these are the ones that I would recommend for Gaslight, although most of their 28mm ranges look really good.
They also have lines for Gangsters, Sherwood, and Swashbucklers - lines that are really good with matching to many television or movie properties and ideas.

So the boy had a few days of from school after the weekend (Jan 27-30, 2014) and went on a painting rampage with what I pulled out and put on 30mm bases. He did a really good job - I did take care of the eyes and the buttons, but he did everything else on these miniatures.

We finish our miniatures with Army Painter's 'Quickshade', apply the basing, and then end with a non-gloss protective spray.

And this is what I am working on currently for BASH Con ... hoping to get them finished this weekend. Mostly just have some base coats done so far.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Glowing in a Wasteland

There are so many influences when considering a scenario or campaign for a post-apocalyptic wasteland setting. My first thought always leads to Mad Max and the struggle of the leftover civilians against the warriors that have yielded to the new way of violence and brutality.

More so though, I lean towards the incredible Grendel comics by Dark Horse in the 90's, especially the "Grendel Tales" that depicted competing tribes of Grendel followers and the Grendel Prime cyborg that was sent to protect the young leader to be a la Terminator 2 (T2 1991, Grendel War Child 1992 - but Comico's bankruptcy delayed the publishing of the Grendel series). Matt Wagner is my all time favorite comic book creator, so I am a bit biased. The world he created that was then expanded in the Tales comics by different creators continues to amaze.

Both of these primarily deal with the human v human dynamic, although the Grendel series did introduce an underlining story regarding vampires as major enemies of society that helped bring down the leftover catholic church leadership and would become the scourge of the Grendel Tribes, when not fighting each other.

Still thinking on this I guess...