Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Little Horror on the Prairie (Background)

At the upcoming BashCon 33, I will be running what should be the 3rd and final chapter in my epic story of 'A Little Horror on the Prairie'. To get some people updated on the adventure to come and what has happened in the previous sessions, please read on.

Being a Stay Alive! Gaslight adventure, I always try to blend history and fantasy, thinking of the events in my campaign world as an alternate reality. For this adventure, I wanted a train robbery that took place on the plains and close to the Black Hills. The background for this event was found at the following website: Legend of America: Big Springs, Nebraska Train Robbery, authored by Kathy Weiser.

The Real Black Hills Bandits
In 1867, the Union Pacific Railroad established a water station at Big Springs in Nebraska. It was located next to an old natural spring that was long used by the local indian tribes. It did harbour a few settlers before becoming a town due to the travelers along the Oregon and California Trails as well as a stopover for the stage coaches and the Pony Express. As a jerkwater, it became one of numerous stops for steam trains at that time. In 1883, it would become the town of Lone Tree.

In 1876, Texas cowboys Sam Bass and Joel Collins drove cattle to the northern markets but instead of returning to the ranchers that hired them with the profits, they began prospecting in the Black Hills of South Dakota for gold. Having no luck and having spent all their money, they created a gang of desperados and took up robbing stage coaches becoming known as the Black Hills Bandits. Many of the stages robbed were on the same Deadwood Stage line and the last one resulted in the death of the driver (Johnny Slaughter). The horses bolted at the sound of the gunfire and as legend as it, this was the runaway stage that Calamity Jane stopped before entering Deadwood.

They soon decided that robbing stage coaches and splitting the profits six ways was not enough so they decided to take on robbing trains. On September 18, 1877, they made their way to the Big Springs station in Nebraska, captured the station master (John Barnhart), destroyed the telegraph, and forced him to signal the eastbound train to stop. The mail car safe held only $450 and when they tried to rob the larger safe, it had a time lock that prevented it to be opened until it arrive at its destination. They beat the attendent brutally but to no avail; he was unable to open it. They continued to search the train and for some reason, a shipment of $60,000 in freshly minted gold coins were stowed away in wooden boxes and not under any special guard or in a safe. The reason for this is unknown. 

After the robbery and capture of over $60,000 in gold coins, $450 from the mail car safe, and about $1,300 and four gold watches from the passengers. They split up in pairs and and headed in different directions.

Sam Bass and Jack Davis posed as farmers and rode south in a one horse buggy with their share of the haul stowed under the seat. After making it to Texas, Bass explained to locals he was wealthy from hitting a stike of gold in the Black Hills. He would eventually start another gang and rob trains again in Texas before he was eventually killed in 1878 on his 27th birthday in an ambush by Texas Rangers at Round Rock, Texas. Davis had tried to convince Bass to come wiht him to South America. He was never seen again.

Bill Heffridge and Joel Collins were preparing to leave for Texas when they were approached by the Ellis County Sheriff George Bardsley and ten cavalry troopers from Fort Hays. They both agreed to return with the sherrif for questioning but while riding back to the station, they decided to pull their guns with Collins shouting "By God! Let's die game!". With the cavalry behind them, they were killed before they were able to fire their own weapons.

Jim Berry and Tom Nixon fled to Missouri where Berry was from. Berry's wife had given birth to their 6th child a die after the robbery in Montana. In Mexico, Missouri, Berry made the mistake of exchanging the gold coins for currency which alerted the authorities. The Sherriff, Henry Glasscock, apprehended Berry at his home in Shamrock, Missouri. He had been shot in the leg with buckshot while escaping and died two days later from gangrene (October 21, 1877). Before he died, he had said that Nixon took off shortly after arriving in Missouri. It has been long thought he returned to his native Canada having never been captured.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

BASH Con Memories

I have lived in Toledo now for almost 30 years, and I have been attending the annual gaming convention at the UT campus, BASH Con, for most of those years.  Back in 2009, on a slow Friday evening, myself and this other guy were sitting at empty tables, waiting for players to our games that would never show up. We decided that I would jump over and play in his game and on that night; I was officially introduced to Tunnels & Trolls.

In 2010, I met this guy (we'll call him Tom) and his wife (Robin) again in the registration line. I had not played T&T at all in the year that had passed. Once again, the game that I had planned to run was a non-event, either because no one showed up or because anyone that did show up was still in the long registration line (a common theme at BASH Con unfortunately), so I jumped in Tom's T&T game again.

The Friday night T&T game became a yearly fixture for us at the convention. It turned out that Tom and Robin dabble a bit in small press publishing. Their company is Peryton Publishing and they gave me my first shot at getting in on the writing action before I started my own logo with Darkshade Publishing. In 2011 when my then 11 year old step son was ready to join us, it was the start of my yearly Sunday morning AD&D game, which despite one off year in 2016, is still going strong.

In 2013, Tom and I (mostly Tom) somehow orchestrated an appearance by Ken St. Andre as a special guest for the weekend.

This was also the same year the step-daughter made her first appearance at a convention actually playing games, complete with some Barbie dolls to keep her company (she was only 8; in hindsight, maybe a bit too young).

Those are some of the highlights for me. Meeting new people that would become good friends and fellow collaborators. Looking forward to many more years to come. Below is an archive of all the blog entries from Tom, Robin, Beckett, and Paul to fill anyone in on many more details cool happenings.



Tom, Part 1Part 2 Part 3

Jerry, Part 1Part 2

Tom, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Jerry, Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Tom, Part 1Part 2Part 3





Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Unabashed Belated Bash Con 2017 Report

Yikes - it takes a monumental event like Tom and Robin missing one year and I seemingly lost the desire to turn in my yearly report. Now to be fair, 2017 was quite the year for me and the family, but it is still not much of an excuse. So, I searched the phone for pictures, Facebook for posts, and messenger for clues on what happened on that long weekend back in February of 2017.

I have a text on my phone as well where I was going to pick Liam up from school and head to the convention, but since the plan was going to be to play in Tom's game on Friday night, I believe I simply went to the convention on Friday night by myself, got through registration, chatted with some folks, and I either dropped off my miniatures/Darkshade books to sell at Beckett's booth or did so on Saturday morning (cannot remember).

Saturday I brought both kids with me. Irelynn ended up meeting up with her friend Riley whose dad is also a gamer. She ended up playing in a Marvel Superheroes game with them. Liam and I played in both of Saharrah's Crawlspace events. I know Randy bought some of my miniatures including my Reaper Bones Cthulhu, and I bought a full set of John's 'Lake Erie Monster' comics. We then hooked up with Beckett and John after the dealer hall closed and played a board game called 'Steampunk Rally'.

On Sunday I brought both kids again for the lone game of the weekend that I was running, my annual AD&D game. This year it was 'A Fistful of Scales'. Here was my battle report from the Facebook post in the Peryton Gamers group.

So the party fights through the Lizard Man ambush at the bridge, but the nemesis leader of the reptiles has escaped the party once again, jumping into the river and swimming away. Years ago, this same individual had critical hit both Gill and Kraze on subsequent attacks, forcing Lorian and Ripley to retreat and swear vengeance.
Then, the black dragon appeared, circling in the sky and throwing spells down at the party. Irelynn playing Rose the Mage decided to cast 'Monster Summoning I', which turned out to be the spell that drove the Black Dragon away. He had flown down and scooped up the Maedar (the new cleric in the group) and one of the accompanying guardsmen from the city. As the dragon was flying away with both in its claws, the summoned monsters, being Level 1 Human Berserkers, all charged at Rose's order and one connecting with a critical hit to the dragon's foot, severing off its toes on its hind leg and causing it to howl in pain and anger. In disgust, it dropped the pair, the lowly soldier falling to his death and Maedar gliding down with his boots of Levitation. The dragon flew away to lick its wounds.

Also from Facebook, this was Randy's post regarding Bash Con 2017:
So this weekend was spent in Toledo at Bashcon, a gaming convention at the Toledo University. It was small compared to the gigantic ones like GenCon I am used to attending, but was quite pleasant and fun. The smaller size makes it much less stressful, and more intimate feeling. Met and talked with many people and heard plenty of interesting stories. 
I spent the bulk of the time helping to watch the venders booth for Weird Realms owned by friend Beckett. Met John there, the guy behind Shiner Comics; enjoyed every minute of it!  
Saharrah was repping Peryton Publishing and ran 2 games using Tom's "Crawlspace Deluxe" RPG system, and was met with renowned enthusiasm! It was her first solo GMing of any game and she rocked it, with multiple requests for more games. All the players purchased a rules book, and couldn't wait to run their own games back home. She is hooked, and anxious to run more, she has the bug! 
Seen Jerry and Liam, and had some good conversation as usual, reminiscing on games of the past, looking forward to Gencon in August. Tom and Robin were missed, but there in spirit.  
I think that is about it. I collected some money from Beckett before leaving on Sunday from my good sold and he agreed to take my miniatures back to sell at his shop. I am sure I bought a few things for the kids, probably a necklace for Irelynn and some dice for Liam.

Appendix: The Official Sunday AD&D J2E Adventure List

2018: One More Time With Feeling
2017: A Fistful of Scales
2015: A Farewell to Hands (Part 1 & 2)
2014: The Frozen Hold
2013: Another Fine Mess
2012: Ninja Dawn on Pirate Island
2011: Unforgiven

Friday, January 5, 2018

Tunnels & Trolls in 2018

Now seems to be a good time to make an updated list of "official" and "approved" publishers of Tunnels & Trolls. This includes what is posted on the Flying Buffalo site as well as the T&T website.

From the Tunnels & Trolls website:

Flying Buffalo
Fabled Worlds
The Lone Delver Games
The Trollish Delver Games
Trollhalla Press
Tavernmaster Games
Peryton Publishing
Darkshade Publishing

Others that I know of:

Bolt Thrower Press
Rarr! I'm A Monster Publishing
Trollhammer Press

I may well be missing some...please let me know.

(Art by James Shields, Used with Permission)