Saturday, June 12, 2021

Scenery Pieces, Conan Game, and back to face to face?

As with a lot of my spending way too much time by myself, I've been trying to paint some of the Ramparts & Dungeons and Lasers scenery from the last couple of Kickstarters. The fantasy stuff is a lot easier to paint in many ways. I've been using cheap acrylic paint, about $1 / ounce. As this is the background and scenery, and takes a large amount of paint, it is a lot cheaper than using miniature paints. I save those for actual minis. Which sadly I need to get back to painting as I've quite a few in the "pile of shame" awaiting painting. But I figure I'll paint the ones I need for upcoming games for face to face...oh. 

The game shop where we used to play will probably be opening up late July for those who have been vaccinated. I am one of those (though I would not mind Magento powers from the vaccine. And I thought my attachment to reality was a bit thin...but I could win a million dollars as NC is going to do a vaccine lottery. Think of all the paint then!) And my other group, the two boys have had their first vaccine, so hopefully we'll be able to get back face to face late July as well. Which is also when I am guessing my Reaper, Blacklist & Nord miniatures will all show up. On the same day. So hopefully in a few weeks, there will be some more be actual table top playing!

Part of the reason I like face to face is to share the dice rolls. There can be so much anticipation about that, at least for me. And as I usually have sucky rolls, I need to be able to role play a lot more to work around those rolls. And while my current group I assume is honest, there is one guy who always seems to get amazing rolls. Perhaps he is stealing all my good rolls... Anyway, I like to also watch the GM roll if they roll in front of the screen (or even have a screen). The dice mechanic is there to add some randomness to the game, else we'd just be doing improv theater. But often the mechanics of new games are easier to show than explain. And we're currently playing Conan, which is a pretty crunchy game. With a very dense character sheet. On the bright side, there is a really nice character generation site that goes through the process and gives you a form fillable PDF. We're doing something a bit different, and something I am really enjoying. We are actually doing some shared world building: we're playing various family members: we have the "children" who are late teens/early 20s. The twin girls Lifo and Lofa and their brother Skeld. I am playing their uncle Truble (yes, wherever I go there is trouble...). We had been on the run as our village had been over-run by frost giants and the Wolves. We were all that remained (and I had only just returned from my mercenary days for retirement. I am getting too old for this shit! And my shirt may be red...). We had a player who missed session 0, and in our first battle against the Picts, some kid (okay, again, late teens, early 20s?) comes running across the woods screaming Father as we we start our attack. And for a mercenary with apparent training, I really suck at hitting anything (see above note on die rolls). Which is okay, but there was some fun role playing after the battle as I had no idea about this new son of mine. Thorgrim tells me his mothers name was Gretchen, and I keep asking which Gretchen (and one of the players came up with Gretchin Kapafulshlaggen of the midfield Kapafulshlaggen's. Don't ask me to speak it - I have enough trouble speaking simple English at times!) It was a different way of getting a group together to already have some back-history. Several games have this sort of built into the character generation now (one of the things I do like about Mongoose Traveller! And the Fate game worked in a similar fashion to get the characters together a bit less awkwardly). And we've carried on the world building in a group chat message where we share silly things, memes and fun links. But there is some in-character postings as well. And Truble has eaten food stored in a kangaroo pouch. It was a bit furry and I was picking fur out of my teeth for a day. Yeah, we get a bit off-tangent and somehow manage to work things into the game. This is actually the first time this has happened, though we have talked about our games before. Just never extended the game into these texting sessions.

A dense but pretty character sheet

And like paint, I have a lot of dice. And more coming in. Though I do also tend to give dice away as presents. My cat dice showed up, and the orange dice are really for some coworkers (who I play board games with but not yet role playing). They have an orange cat, Simon, and I try to give my immediate co-workers gifts around Christmas. But we've not been in an office for over a year, and the owner realized we are all as efficient outside the office as in, so he is selling the office space. 

Anyway, a dreary Saturday and I've been painting some of the terrain. My cheap wash seems to usually work pretty well for bringing out some of the details. Playing with the filters for various effects on the pictures, and you can see my stick-built ladder. And my lack of painting some, err, a lot, of the minis I have. Now I have painted the giant scorpion as that will get used in the face to face game I hope to resume in a month. Always good to have the beast instead of either a die representing that, or a stand-up mini. Though I also have some stand-ups I could use. 

Finally, happy that the Dungeons and Laser people added tabs that allow for additional floors. I think I've already mentioned it, but it does allow for multi-level dungeons. 

And like everything else, will it get used? When I play the Fantasy Trip, it is a hex based, not square based, combat system. The Ramparts are just walls, so they can be used on a battlemap easily enough. And I think for a lot, the other stuff can also be used for at least the non-combat stuff for getting a feel of things, but I don't know. We can probably fake the hexes in a way. But we have to get back to face to face gaming first!

And speaking of battlemaps, yes, another Kickstarter for a silicon version. I'm getting 2 at the moment as they are really cheap. One with the traditional hex / squares on opposite sides, and a clear one that I am hoping I can lay over the starship poster maps to keep them safe in use. I'll also probably get a few of those tracker sheets for the other GMs in my group. I think that could be useful. If interested, they have met their funding goal. See the campaign here. And apparently I just cannot keep away from Kickstarters. 

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Apex vs my home brew Cowboy & Dinosaur

One of my group pointed me to the Apex RPG:

“Diesel”-pulp is a bit harder to define, but simply put: It’s steampunk, but instead of gears and steam, diesel engines have led a new renaissance in exploration, adventure, and more. Dieselpulp is focused on the early 1900s, the Jazz Age, and the aftermath of World War 1, and  the beginning of World War 2. We’ve loosely set our game in the 1930s, but you can run it whenever you want.

And of course the cover has a great image. So, rather than continue with the microlite version (which I may still tinker with later), we'll go with this game.

 And as I am now painting up some Aztec/ancient ruins type of scenery from the Ramparts Kickstarter I backed, so hopefully we'll be back at a table and I can bring out the flats. Of course, I don't have any minis that would really fit, except I do have several Raiders Lego minis. If I can find them, I think I'd have that covered.  

There are several pulp style character classes, and it is a fairly rules-light game. I've breezed through the PDF but ordered the hardback so I can actually ready the thing. And here I said I would not get any more RPGs. But $40 is worth it to have a framework already done versus coming up with my own in my own limited amount of time I do have (having spent over 3 hours waiting for one of my motorcycles to get a new front tire & an oil change. I did walk a lot yesterday at least while waiting. If I only had that book and my glasses it would have been okay. Though I did try a watermelon salad for lunch that turned out to be pretty good!)

Anyway, the classes are as below, and if you've seen any of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies, or the Rocketeer, you can pretty much envision their Appendix N:

  • Academic
  • Adventurer
  • Dinosaur Rider
  • Feral Child
  • Gadgeteer
  • Martial Artist
  • Mentalist
  • Mercenary
  • Mystic
  • Raider
  • Socialite
We've just started a Conan game, with an interesting twist to our characters. We're actually playing an family: I'm Uncle Truble Luganson, and fleeing the destruction of our home town I have the twins Lifa and Lofa and their brother Skeld. It was a group decision so that was pretty cool, and we avoided "we all meet in a tavern". Which honestly, I've not actually done in years. But hey, it's a trope. 

And hey, here's a watermelon salad (and my not even on Instagram or whatever everyone shares food pictures of!)

And finally, it's been sort of difficult getting back into my Traveller solo game. I'll try some more, but solo playing is just not the same. While I love creating characters, worlds, starships and all the fun Traveller mini-games, it is just not the same without people. I may have to try & get into an on-line game. I was invited before but the time was not great. Not sure it is any better now, but I do want to play some Traveller!


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

No Refund Refit

Well, not a refit but a recalculation based on the 650 tons it actually is.  Using this on-line ship builder, this is the initial redraft:

No Refunds, Courier Merchant
650 ton, TL 13 Civilian Design, 274.43 MCr
7 crew (Command: 1+1, Engineers: 1+2, Steward: 0+1, Medic: 0+1)
4 High/Mid passengers

| ___.__ | _39.00 | __.__ | Close Structure, partially streamlined, fuel scoops
| _52.00 | _31.20 | __.__ | hull armour #3
| __5.00 | __0.03 | __.__ | purification plant
| _20.00 | __3.25 | __.__ | bridge
| __2.00 | __9.00 | __.__ | computer model 2
| _19.50 | _78.00 | __.__ | drive jump #2
| _32.50 | _22.75 | __.__ | drive maneouver #2
| _26.00 | _78.00 | __.__ | power plant #2
| ___.__ | ___.__ | 13.00 | agility #2
| _13.00 | ___.__ | __.__ | fuel, PP endurance 4 weeks (8 weeks powered down)
| 130.00 | ___.__ | __.__ | fuel, jump range 2 parsecs
| __6.00 | __6.60 | __.__ | hard points x6 with triple turrets
| _44.00 | __5.50 | __.__ | staterooms x11
| 250.00 | ___.__ | __.__ | 250 tons cargo capacity
| __4.00 | __0.50 | __.__ | workshop
| __6.00 | __0.60 | __.__ | 1 ton low berth, emergency6 ton
| _10.00 | ___.__ | __.__ | hanger space for 10 ton place-holder
| 620.00 | 274.43 | 13.00 EP used, PP generates 13.00 EPs

277.17 MCr (first ship, includes architect fees) built in 100 weeks
219.54 MCr (20% discount in volume, TCS) built in 80 weeks

CT Ship Designer by Matt. Visit

I need to go back over High Guard and the deckplans to see if that is about right. Still off by 30 tons but the 0-Hr deckplans are really spacious, not your typical Traveller submarine feeling. From the site and the Starfinder page (lots of great ships there! Not really great for Traveller as they aren't mostly fuel tanks, but I can live with that)

And I know, I keep saying I'll do a Mongoose version. Here is a draft of that:

Hull: 650 Closed Structure 650 32.5
286 Hull Points
Armor: 2 points Crystal [16] 1.625
Aerofins [2] 1
Manuever 2 [13] 26
Jump 2 [32.5] 48.75
Power: TL 12 Fusion [20] 20
Basic: 130
Manuever 70
Jump: 70
Emergency: 30 = 300 points
Fuel [196]
Man: 0
Power: 65
Jump: 130 Jump 2
"Fuel Compartment" 1
Fuel Scoops [1] 1
Fuel Purifying 20 tons/day [4] .2
Bridge [20] 3.25
Sensor Stations x2 [2] 1
Computer: Computer/25 TL13 10
Sensors: Military Grade {Power-2] 4.1
Staterooms: 6 [24] 3
Common Area: [15] 1.5
Full Hangar [40] 8
Airlocks: 4 [8] .8
Gaming Space [3] .018
Medical Bay [4] 2
Work Area [2] 1
Rentry/Lifeboats: 6 [3] .12
Cargo [240]
===== ====
645.5 165.863

Not quite matching, so probably need to get back to the CT designer to fine tune things. Not sure why the cost of the Mongoose is so much less - need to check my maths! Probably will dump into a spreadsheet to add things up better, and be able to save off the info. Though part of the issue is the deck plans only show 6 staterooms, so that's what I did with the manual. I'll have to adjust the passengers to 0 probably to make the 1st one fit, and readjust the cargo bay a bit.

Mongoose does its power a bit differently, but honestly that part seems more to the original spirit of Traveller: you may not have enough power to run all the things, hence the ancient tradition of dimming the lights pre-jump. Note that I've added a bit of extra power so all things can be run at once. The only thing taking extra power are the sensors. 

Speaking of sensors, I know there are some quite vehement threads about having a nuclear power plant in space cannot be stealthy: basic TL 5+ sensors should pick that up. Mongoose does have sensor rules based on your equipment as well as the potential for stealth ships. While I can't say I like where Mongoose is going with Traveller (they are either re-doing stuff that has been done way too often before, or doing things that to just don't feel like Traveller), I do like the stealth rules and all that. And as Malik is the sensor/comms operator, I added 2 sensor stations as that is also what shows up in the deck plans, just behind the bridge. I like to let players roll for things.

Between the military sensors (no DM, but at least no negative DMs as per basic & civilian grade) and specialized stations that apparently have no actual game effect, the players stand a slightly better chance at sensing things. Of course, the player's skills add even more hopefully.  Think I'll start using some sort of sensor rolls when I get back to my next session of exploring the League of Planets.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

More Plastic Scenary - Will I actually use it?

This year there is a LOT of plastic showing up: I received my Dungeons & Lasers 2 stuff and I am working on that, the Bones, Nord and Blacklist minis should show up, probably all on the same day. There is probably close to 1000 minis there that I will, at the rate I am going, will finish painting by the turn of the next century. And I am almost certain they will all show up on the same day.

I have been doing some of the washes and dry painting for the terrain pieces with varying success.

in the Dwarven mines

 The fantasy is a lot easier than the science fiction stuff in many ways. And sadly I am in for the D&L season 3 campaign because they have these sewers. And I've had 2 adventures run in sewers so far.

But: will it ever get used at the table? We've been playing the last year via Skype, entirely theater of the mind. While that does work for most gaming, sometimes I just need to see how the adversaries are positioned. And that does not need minis per se as I've used dice and coins to show the relative positions of people during games. Still rocking my battle map from college, though I did get a new one that is double sided, with hexes on one side and squares on the other. Anyway, while at least one of the other players has even more plastic than I do (and does a fantastic painting job!) we've yet to bring this to a table.

On the other hand, my Fantasy Trip group is all about the minis. They even bought a 3D printer to print their own. Although it turns out 3D printing is more complicated and time consuming than they thought. As we've all had our shots, I am hoping we may be able to start back with face to face gaming soon. And bring on the giant scorpion! 

Even if I don't get to use them (and figure out how to store them so I can find what I need!) I am still enjoying (at least sometimes) the process of painting. Even if my eyes have a hard time seeing the details at times. And as I bought a lot of flesh tone paints, ranging from light to dark, orc to troll, I have a lot of possibilities. Now to just practice until I get better!

I also really need to work on the model building. Or get some green stuff or other filler. I am just not particularly good at putting models together. Need to slow down and take my time. But hey, from a distance it is looking good at any rate!

Not sure why an Elf is on a plasma silo, but I would play that!

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Montca / Yontin 1107 A639997-C

Felt bad about a filler post. Here is a picture of the Montca system. See this post for the initial details. I'd do more but sadly the lawn requires mowing. And funnily enough, when I do mow that, I oddly think about Traveller, The grass clippings, not worth anything here, could be a useful cargo for some system that needs biomass. Though the economics don't really make sense, it always make me think what is worthless on on planet may be valuable elsewhere. And that I never have completed my Traveller trade program despite many, many tries! I think the original Winform one was mostly there way back in 2009 or so. Getting laid off gave me a lot of time to write code for my own use! Not that I recommend it otherwise, but it was actually an excellent learning experience. So if you can, make sure you have a buffer set up in case something happens! And that too applies to gaming: it seems that a lot of my characters live hand to mouth, and while it is fun to play, in the "real" world I like to be able to plan ahead a bit more.

Friday, April 30, 2021

End of April Review

Yeah, a "filler" post as this has been a busy week, and I've not had much time for game stuff.

Oddly, my last post on the cardboard crafting is one of the most popular for some reason. Not sure if it is the amazing sharpie work I did, or my working on the Cowboys and Dinos game. Regardless, it has had a lot of hits (okay, a lot is entirely relative. Over 60 which for any single post is a lot). Or perhaps I've just left it as the most recent one that shows on other blogs, and so there has been more time for exposure. 

Our 2nd session of Jackals hit a bit of a bump as a couple of us had a hard time figuring out how the valor part works. From what I understand, you basically have 2 sets of hit points which are the same number of points. The first "layer" is getting the wind knocked out of you sort of thing: you get that back after the combat is over, and you take a few minutes to dust yourself off, scrape off the blood. But once those are exhausted, the "real" damage starts. Those points are actual physical damage and take time and real healing. If that was all there was, I'd be good: the 1st set is a sort of shield, then you take hull damage after your shields fail. But, the character sheet has 3 rows which have markers for the damage. There is this valor value that is calculated based on the number of rows you have that are open, that is, all the damage pips are not hit. For Zandakar, I have 3 rows of 5, or 15 points for each level. So I can take 15 points before the "real" damage starts. I start of with the 15 x 3 or 45 valor points. When I've taken 5-9 point of damage, my top row is filled, and I know have 15 x 2 or 30 valor points. But that valor level is not used from what I can tell: there are no game mechanics tied to the calculated value. Another player with apparently a math degree was having a hard time as the GM was saying he now has these valor points that do not match the table. There was a fair amount of frustration. I've a feeling that there is something we're supposed to be able to do with those calculated valor points but no idea what.

One cool feature I do like is clash points. This is the number of actions you have. It can be adjusted by a few things, but allows you to perform actions that take clash points. Like action points in many other games, better characters and skills may translate to higher clash points so you can do more. You do want to save a point to be able to dodge, though! Reminds me of a few Traveller games, such as Snapshot, that has action points based on (I think - it has been a decade+ since I last played!) dexterity. So a more dexterous character can do more. The Fantasy Trip also has something like this, where high dexterity archers can shoot twice per combat round, once at the beginning (as they will have the highest dexterity most likely!) and again after all have gone. If you add in weapons expertise, an archer just won't miss unless he rolls 16+, depending on the distance. And hmm, TFT also has Toughness which acts like armor in a way, allowing your character to shrug off damage by rolling with the punch. You get up to Toughness two, and layer that with armor, and you have the makings of a good tank!

But after that first side trip into the rules minutia, we decided just to play it out. I've a feeling it would have gone more smoothly at a table as we could look at the character sheet. Even though we are playing via Skype. we do not have cameras on. While I think that would help the game, not everyone has a webcam so we don't play that way. Though screen sharing may also help. But hey, we've been doing it this way for a year now and it is mostly working.

Speaking of: I get my 2nd shot next week, and the Fantasy Trip group I think all have their shots. So I've reached out to see if we can get back to face to face gaming. Real live people! What will I do? Not sure about the main Asheville Gaming Group: where we play has not opened the gaming rooms yet. Hopefully soon. Here is a link to The Wyvern's Tale - if you are in Asheville drop on in & say hey. I've not been in there since last March or so, maybe I should drop in as well!

As it is a weekend, I hope to get a bit of game stuff in: maybe continue my Lamia's Labyrinth solo play, perhaps more Traveller solo. And I have a bit more background on Zandakar's people from the GM that I need to read and incorporate into that character. 

I also finally got back on my old motorcycle, a 1984 Honda Knighthawk (this is not mine but looks identical). I replaced the battery a month ago and then that was as far as I went to getting on it. I bought it in 1987 or so, my first vehicle! I had to go to the office today to get a key card, even though I'm not likely to need that as they are trying to sell the office, and I work out of my basement. I have ridden my other bike, a 2011 (I think) Honda Shadow Spirit over 200 miles this year already as it was in front of the other motorcycle so easier to get out. It too is just black and chrome - apparently I have thing for black motorcycles.



They ride differently. I got the 2nd when I thought the 1st was not going to get working again, but it turned out to be something in the fuel line that was causing it to die. It just took a while to get that figured out. And as the insurance is so cheap, I just have both. My wife rides a Honda 919 and that one scares me: it wants to go really fast. I'll stick with my cruisers.

Funny thing is my car is a 1991 Toyota MR-2 (my 2nd vehicle I ever bought, and still drive). All my vehicles offer nothing should I get into an accident. Perhaps I am more daring than I thought! I did get a Honda Odyssey van when my son came along, so I do have one "safe" vehicle at least!

Ahh, review went off those rails. Friday. Let's see, anything other than work too much and still not get enough done? Not really. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Cheap Dungeon Crafting - Cardboard. And More Cowboys and Dinos

There are a lot of people out there who can do some amazing things with just cardboard, a sharpie and scissors. In my case I also added an hobby knife and pen. I may have to get some fine-tipped Sharpies.

Anyway, saw these docks someone made from cardboard, and having some cardboard from the Fantasy Trips Kickstarter available (I don't save off the shipping boxes. While I sometimes veer to being a completist, I try not to carry that to the shipping containers!), decided to give it a whirl. For 5 minutes or so of work, it was easier than the craft-stick version. And for larger scale things, it may be more than good enough!

On the left, craft sticks, the right, our cardboard dock

I've also been downloading some papercraft models. Maybe some cottages, inns and gates. Of course, putting then together will be a bit challenging so I'll start off with something fairly simple. But all this presupposes I get back to a table. Here's hoping!

I've also been doing some work on the Tumbleweeds and Dinosaur game. I'm thinking of adding 4 attributes to the dinosaurs, and at least two have direct game mechanics. I'm using the Tumbleweeds microlite 20 game as the core, and adding the dinosaurs. I still have to define how you link to the dinosaurs, and I am heavily leaning to the Dragonriders of Pern idea: You have to be there at the hatching to impress on a dino. You can only impress on one at a time, though I think a higher level of dinowrangling may allow for more. 

And I need more details on the dinowrangling: going with not everyone can do that, so it is a chosen class per the rules, just a new one. 


Dinos have 4 additional qualities:

Size: this is the dinos base size.

Small: These are smaller than your character, from mouse sized up to large dog sized.

Medium: These dinos range from 100 to 300 pounds or so. Not capable of carrying people, but they are useful for hauling goods.

Large: These are the horse sized and a but larger, 300 to 1000 pounds or so. Generally ridable and able to haul wagons.

Huge: Anything larger is huge, 1000+ pounds.

Speed: this is the dinos top speed.

Slow: A cowboy can out-walk this dinosaur.

Medium: You may have to run to keep up but a cowpoke can go as fast.

Fast: As fast as a horse at a good cantor or gallop.

Very fast: a galloping horse may be able to keep up if it was a very fast horse.

Extremely fast: You ain’t seen nothing move that quick!

Mulishness: just how stubborn is this critter.

The AC is the roll to make to get the dino to do what you want. If you are bonded to the dino, add in your dinowrangling skillx2, else just the skill.

(the x2 may be too much at higher levels: maybe dinowrangling +2?)

Very mulish: it won’t listen and does its own thing in its own time. AC 18-20

Mulish: stubborn but will do what you want it to with enough encouragement. AC 15-17

Listenin’ : the dino will do what you want, though you may get some side eye in there.AC 12-14

Puppylike: the dino tries its best to please you! AC 8-11

Empathy: how well your connection is.

The AC is the ability to be able to share your senses: if you need the dino to come to you, or you need to get to your dino. You may add your dinowrangling skill for your bonded dino.

A success allows you the basic control as below. The higher the success, the more “in-tune” you are with the dino. For those highly connected, you can often feel each other’s pains as well.

This affects how well the dino listens and will obey you, as well as how much you can share in the senses.

Low: You just can’t get through without contact, such as reigns or hand signals. AC 18-20

Medium: a hi-ho Silver, and your dino comes romping up to you within hearing distance. AC 12-17

High: you can complete each other’s thoughts it seems at times. AC 6-11

Dinowrangling and your dinosaur

The dinowrangling skill is affected by the mulishness and empathy of the dinosaur.