Friday, July 31, 2015

40K Friday - New Allies

We haven't been playing much 40K lately but work has continued:

  •  With the release of a new Dark Angels codex I have been reassessing my force in development to figure out how I need to adjust - more on that in another post. 
  • The Eldar armies (Blaster's and mine) have been getting some attention. 
  • I took my orks out for their first 7th edition scrap a while back - more on that later too. 
The most recent development has been the acquisition of a small Dark Eldar force. The thinking was as follows:
  1. We have two Eldar armies in the house
  2. Eldar and Dark Eldar are battle-brothers
  3. Dark Eldar have a piece of wargear called a webway portal which allows the user and his unit to deep strike without deviation
  4. Wraithguard have short-ranged D-class weapons
Now we are not the first to discover this nifty combo but after playing around with various Deathwing and marine drop-pod armies I can say that safe deep-striking is a really really nice thing to have. With marines it's typically done with melta weapons or heavy flamers. Being able to do it with D-weapons is really nasty. It will only work with the one squad but it's a truly vicious squad. With a huskblade and a shadowfield he also gives the undead eldar some close combat punch that makes charging them a much less attractive proposition.  

Now to enable this the minimum Dark Eldar force is an ally detachment, so 1 HQ and 1 troop unit. 

Digging out my old never-built 3rd edition Dark Eldar warriors I put together a squad and eBay provided a reasonably priced Raider for them to ride in. This gives me a nice mobile unit that is not terribly expensive and dishes out some decent poisoned weapon fire which is something the normal Eldar army does not feature. With splinter racks on the raider, they will be scoring a lot of hits up close. Of course, with armor 10 on the raider they'd better take those shots while they can. They will most likely be starting in reserve.

Not much paint yet but they will get there

The total ally force looks like this:

1 Archon (HQ) @ 165 Pts
     Infantry (Character); Fleet; Independent Character; Night Vision; Power from Pain; #Plasma Grenades; Haywire Grenades; Webway Portal; Shadow Field; Kabalite Armour; Splinter Pistol; Huskblade; Warlord

10 Kabalite Warriors (Troops) @ 165 Pts
     Infantry; Fleet; Night Vision; Power from Pain; Kabalite Armour; Close Combat Weapon; Splinter Rifle (x9); Splinter Cannon

     1 Raider @ [70] Pts
          Splinter Racks; Disintegrator Cannon

Models in Army: 12
Total Army Cost: 330

Now granted, I could make this a lot cheaper. 5 Kabalite Warriors is 40 points, so I could strip this down to a 205 point boost, even less if I went with a less-geared-up Archon, but in a larger game of 1500+ points I like the capabilities this force brings to a typical Craftworld Eldar army.

For the future, I admit I like the Dark Eldar look, probably enough to expand them beyond "minimal ally force". If I can scrape together the rest of my old Warriors from the 3rd edition box that would give me a second squad (or two minimum squads) and at that point they have the core of a full army. From an ally standpoint, Fire Dragons on a Venom seem to be a popular option as do minimum warriors or Trueborn on Venoms for objective seizing, so a Venom or two seems like a good idea. A second Raider seems like an obvious choice, and a Ravager would add a Heavy Support option. Scourges and maybe some Incubi look like fun as well. There's not a lot of urgency here, just an interest and the potential to mix and match 3 different armies together in different ways.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Age of Sigmar - First Game Report

So Warhammer Fantasy Battle has been replaced by Warhammer Age of Sigmar in the last few weeks. This is a whole new system with a shiny new boxed set and a new core book that is only tangentially related to what has come before - more on that later.

So did we go buy the big new box? Oh no - In a stunning move, GW has released the rules for AoS on their website for free, along with (even more shocking) army lists for all of the current armies in the game! I was shocked, surprised, and very happy to see this as it's been a  long time since Games Workshop has taken this approach to any of their games, and they've never done it for one of their "main" games. Maybe someone there finally gets it!

Given the rules and army lists and given that we already have several fantasy armies floating around the house we decided to give the new game a try. Apprentice Red brought out his Wood Elves while I dusted off my Chaos Warriors. After re-skimming the rules again and choosing our actual units we got started.

This won't be a long report.

On the right I took a mounted chaos lord, a chaos sorcerer on foot, two units of chaos warriors, and a unit of chaos knights.

On the left Red took two units of glade guard, a unit of waywatchers, a unit of dryads, and a wizard.

The one mistake we made was using the special terrain rules as written. That meant that every piece of terrain on the table had some kind of extra effect (tracked via the red die in each one) - out to radius of 3"! We quickly dropped the radius effect and just applied the effect to units inside the terrain. Even that meant that two of Red's units and one of mine were paralyzed for half the game because of bad rolls. Also, with the terrain effect being random (and with some of them being random every time a unit touches them!) it's difficult to plan around them or use them in any way.  This is not a desirable situation and we will be altering it the next time we play.

On my right the elf guards and the wizard moved up but were out of bow range on their turn. This would be very bad for them as it meant that on my turn (Red went first) they were within charge range of my chaos knights.

So ... yes - Chaos Knights work pretty much the same way they did in prior editions of Warhammer.

The knights and dryads locked up for two turns after this, mainly because they were too close for me to charge and backing off to set up another charge just does not seem like the chaos knight way of doing things.

Over on my left the infantry advanced with some protection from the chaos wizard, but he could not stop the Khorne warriors (the red ones) from being ensorcelled by the !#@$@#$% hills for two turns. Fortunately the elves were having some similar problems and only got two turns of shooting off during my advance. It hurt because wood elves have some nifty shooting abilities but Chaos Warriors are  2-wound troopers so it didn't hurt as much as it could have. I lost 3-4 men out of each unit.

Once they close in of course, it's a pretty short fight. Chaos warriors also still work about like you would expect them to based on prior editions of Warhammer.

So, what do I think of the new game after one session?


  • It plays fast - we ran through first time setup, selection, and 4 turns each in about 2 hours and I would expect that to be faster if we played again
  • There are not a lot of "fiddly bits" - the rules are 4 pages long so there's not much need to look stuff up so the focus does stay on the table and not in the "book"
  • Free rules and free army lists is a great choice - multiple thumbs up for this!
  • Terrain rules are overdone and too variable. There are some good ideas here but it could be a lot better.
  • There are not a lot of the nitty-gritty tactical decisions left from prior editions of Warhammer. From how to size up your unit, to formations, to maneuver, most of that is gone. It does speed up the game, but it removes a lot of the "weight" of the game too
  • Most of the unit customization from prior versions of Warhammer is gone too. There are a few choices on some units, but tooling up a chaos lord is nothing like it was before.
My biggest positive impression is that it's much easier to grab some sheets, set up some units, and start (and finish!) a game now that it used to be. That's a strong feature and in my experience it's the way a lot of games are going nowadays. Simpler & faster is beating out detailed, tactically rich, simulation type games. Presumably because most players are willing to make that choice. and prefer it. It works for me for now, and I have the older versions of Warhammer (and a bunch of other fantasy rules) to use if I want to get more crunchy again.

Short version: this is the DBA version of Warhammer and I predict it will spark a revolution and a new following much like DBA did years ago in the ancients world.

My biggest negative impression is that when you take away all the unit customization, character customization, magic items, and consistent terrain rules, you take away a lot of both the pre-game and in-game strategy and tactics and turn it into a card game where it's mainly my unit stats vs your unit stats. No more angling for a flank charge, no more setting up to use a one-off magic item, no more screening one unit with another, and no more chance for an otherwise intact unit to flee with a failed leadership roll  means that unit stats (and the die rolls) determine most of the outcome of the game. 

The Big Controversy:
The internet has been aflame with the lack of point values and how it ruins the game. I don't think it does. Again, card games work just fine without point values and that's kind of what it feels like. I think there may be some kind of structure needed for a formal tournament and we are already seeing limits on the number of wounds etc but I wonder if a simple limit on spamming things wouldn't solve the problem. Something like "no more than three of any single unit" should do it, combined with designating certain special types as "unique" so we don't get three "Galrauch the two-headed dragon of chaos" units showing up in one fight. I think that would be enough of a limit to keep the game interesting for everyone. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pathfinder - Giantslayer wraps up and some general Adventure Path thoughts.

The Giantslayer adventure path for Pathfinder is now complete and it spurred some thinking on my part.

First up, it looks like a lot of fun. I have not read the entire thing (nor have I read anyone else's reviews) but I have skimmed it and it looks like it is nicely paced with a lot of interesting encounters beyond "...and here's a room with 5 frost giants". Considering it ends with an assault on a storm giant's flying fortress with dragons etc in the mix I'd say it reaches an appropriately epic conclusion.  It's definitely on the "I want to run this" list.

The only problem is that that list now includes:

  • Rise of the Runelords (the original PF campaign)
  • Shattered Star (a sort-of sequel to Runelords)
  • Iron Gods (the magic/tech/Thundarr campaign)
  • Giantslayer
With an honorable mention list of 
  • Mummy's Mask (the Egyptian style campaign) 
  • Serpent's Skull (the lost world campaign)
  • A loose campaign using some of the interesting Pathfinder Society scenarios
 ... and that's just the published full campaign stuff for this one game! It leaves out some homebrew ideas I have, some of the standalone modules type adventures Paizo has released, and a potential Scarred Lands revival (one of our favorite settings for 3E D&D). Considering each AP is taking my group a good 2 years to complete (not that we've completed one yet) I could run nothing but Pathfinder stuff that looks interesting to me right now for the next ten years and not run out of material.

One of the greatest adventure titles ever

One of the good things about Pathfinder is that most of the people working on it have been at it for a while now and the company has put out a lot of material and received a lot of feedback on that material, so they know pretty well what they are doing when it comes to everything from structure and pacing to mechanics. That hasn't always been the case but it's definitely a plus for PF at this point in its life.

At some point though I wonder if it becomes a negative in a weird way for some people - "there's just so much" - or the need to "keep up" with the steady flow of PF material. I'm not talking about rulebooks here (which comes up with other games too) - I'm just talking adventure material. At some point does the ocean of Pathfinder adventure support become a reason to throw up one's hands and walk away? A lot of RPG's have had a single Metaplot campaign from the publisher and maybe a starter adventure or two, and PF is far, far beyond that.

Then I contrast this with the 5th edition D&D buzz that I see online which is almost universally "we want more" and ... I don't know. There are at least two extended AP-like hardback campaigns for 5E with a 3rd on the way, with minimal rules expansion, and it seems as though many players think that's too slow a pace for them. I even see a fair number of comments that some 5E players are converting Pathfinder AP's to 5th edition. So maybe you can never have too much when it comes to adventures.

I've also wondered at times if too many "official" adventures can dominate the flavor of a game, changing it from something the players own to a thing where the corporate plotline is the only generally accepted way to play. I think most versions of D&D were good about avoiding this but other games (Shadowrun comes to mind) seemed to get hung up on the metaplot and ignored a lot of interesting corners of the setting or concept.

Surprisingly PF has not felt this way to me because while there are a ton of adventures there is no metaplot! All of these AP's are largely independent of one another so there isn't some singular evil force trying to take over the world and while many of them are certainly region-threatening, many of them fall short of world-threatening, which makes the whole place interesting and exciting but not ridiculous.  It's sort of like a comic book universe in that there is a lot of big stuff going on independently and only rarely do we see crossover type impacts - but when we do it's a big deal.

Also, unlike many campaign settings, while there are quite a number of known villains/bad guys/threats there are almost no heroes built into the lore. That makes it the whole thing a story waiting for a protagonist to come along. Compare this to Greyhawk, Glorantha, the Forgotten Realms, and most IP universes where there are a bunch of hero types already in place and Golarion (the PF campaign world) feels a lot more fresh, open, and ready to be used by players.

As much as I have liked the past few years of Adventure Paths I am uncertain of the future for a few reasons:

  • The next AP is "Hell's Rebels" which is shaping up as the "good guys rebelling against an evil empire" path. Fun, sure, but if I want to run that kind of game I suspect Star Wars would be a more popular choice.
  • The AP after that is "Hell's Vengeance" which is the first "Evil PC's" campaign for Pathfinder. I'm not sure that interests me or my players enough to make a multi-year commitment to it. The closest thing I can think to it that does interest me would be a Klingon campaign in one of the Star Trek games and that's not exactly 'evil" in the same sense.   
  • Honestly, running Wrath of the Righteous with its good vs evil theme is probably going to scratch that particular itch for a while, making it even less likely that I need another several years worth of fighting for or against Hell in Golarion.
  • Beyond this, once again, how many adventures do I need for one game? I don't enough time to run that many campaigns simultaneously, nor do my players have time to play them!
So I'll probably stay subscribed through Rebels to at least see what they do with it, and to see what they do with AP #100. but after that I'm not sure what I will do. Regardless, I'll post my thoughts here as they develop. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Movies! TV! Wild Speculation!

I see the Wayne Enterprises/Stark Enterprises merger is going well...
Might as well get 'em all out in one post:


  • I liked Age of Ultron. It wasn't quite as much of a rush as the first Avengers movie, mainly because it wasn't the first, but I thought it was still good. 
  • I really liked Mad Maxx. It's definitely worth seeing if you liked any of the first three. even if that doesn't ping your radar, I promise you won't see anything else that looks like it this year. 
  • Jurassic World looked good but plot-wise felt like a remake of the original movie. That's OK because I liked the first movie a lot. I just would have liked to have seen a little more "new".
  • I'm cautiously optimistic for Ant-Man. It looks like they're taking the right tone with it, and I like the idea of Michael Douglas playing Hank Pym. There's a lot they could do with that and he's a great choice to play him if they do. 
  • Fantastic Four I am not optimistic about at all. In the trailer I see a dark look and tone which is about as far from the FF as you can get. I know there's been a lot of furor about the film already but I think it's going to have a lot of problems beyond casting choices. 
  • Terminator Genesys - don't know, hoping to see it sometime this week, watched the first three with Apprentice Blaster in preparation. 

Pretty sure that is not an accident

  • The new trailer for Batman vs. Superman looks a lot more interesting but it still looks _so_serious_ and really dark. I'm not sure we need this much Dark Knight Returns this early in the program (and it is a whole bunch of DKR, see above) but maybe they can pull it off. 
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead is a show! Sold!
  • Shannara is going to be a show too - wait, what? Well, the trailer looks pretty at least. I'm going to keep expectations low as I did not like the books, but maybe they can do something interesting with it. 
  • Finally, if you haven't watched the SDCC trailer for Star Wars and you are reading this blog, go ahead and take a look at it here.

More to come!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Goings-On Around the Tower:

A slow creep back to action ...

  • The one campaign I am running, Wrath of the Righteous for Pathfinder,  is finally getting back on track this month after being on hold since March
  • The one campaign I am playing, Kingmaker for Pathfinder, has also been taking a break but is getting back on track this month
  • Apprentice Red, Official College Student of the Tower is finally embracing the full college experience and is planning to start up a campaign on campus. It's likely to be Pathfinder as well, probably the Emerald Spire, because I have a fair amount of supporting material for it that he can borrow. 
It's a little funny that I've gone this Pathfinder-intensive. I like the game fine, but 5-6 years ago I was as  done with 3rd edition as one could be. The last couple of years it has somehow turned into my main game.

I do intend to use some of those other books on my shelves. Most likely candidates: Savage Worlds, Mutants and Masterminds, ICONS, Spirit of 77, FATE, or some flavor of Star Wars. I have ideas for all of them, and all of them are good candidates for a one-shot game to break things up. That's also all everyone seems to have time to do right now anyway. 

More to come!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Superhero RPGs, Characters, and Supplements

There are probably more superhero RPG's available now than ever before. This is largely due to the growing acceptance of PDFs as "real" game books over the last ten years and the proliferation of sites like DriveThruRPG making it easier to find those PDFs. So somebody finally sees their chance, writes up their own set of rules, publishes it, some people love it ... now what? Supplements!

Every superhero game from Champions to Mutants and Masterminds to ICONS to BASH to Supers to all the rest has a series of supporting books. Typically they include additional powers (handy), a setting or three (also handy), a set of enemies to oppose your heroes (also also handy), and maybe a focus on a particular topic, something like gadgets or vehicles or magic or mental powers. Those are all more or less useful. I own a bunch of them and they are nice to have when your campaign is up and running and players dig into an area you haven't spent a lot of time developing.

There is one type of support book I have a problem with though, and that's the book of thinly-veiled clones of a well known superhero. I don't remember this kind of thing coming up years ago, presumably because most books of Super - NPCs were sold as villain books, a Monster Manual for a different type of game. If you needed a hero it was simple enough to use the stats and the illustration and just give them an attitude adjustment to "good guy" and you were all set. Lately though I've started to see a few things like this:

Spartan (PL 10) is a carousing playboy by day and an armor suit-clad hero by night. Fueled by genius, curiosity, and the occasional recreational pharmaceutical, he makes no apologies for his public identity, nor his quest to squash those who would misuse the technology stolen from his family.

There's a series of these on DTRPG and I have to wonder what the creator is thinking. Just on the Green Ronin forums alone there are multiple versions of Iron Man, let alone what a google search turns up. Why would anyone pay for this interpretation? It's only $1.99 but it's also only 2 pages long which tells me it's the above picture and a page of stats. Compare that with this, as just one example.

I don't want to just pick on this one product - there are others out there- it's just the most recent one I have noticed. This type of product though ... I'm not a fan. Sure, if you're publishing the official marvel RPG then go ahead and give us your official game stats, same with DC. For a non-well-known setting though, well, original concepts or twists on well-known concepts are always welcome but it's difficult for me to envision purchasing someone else's interpretation of a well-known existing hero. The internet tends to generate those in large quantities for any moderately popular supers game system. Interesting art? Sure, I can use that. Stats though ... stats are pretty widely available. Even the classic "Enemies" type book has lost some of its luster for me. It's become a go-to choice for most publishers and I'd say every game system benefits from at least one such book. That said, the value of each one diminishes as more and more are released, as a given campaign is only going to need/use/burn through so many NPC villains and heroes, even if it runs for years. There's a chance that something new comes out that is truly inspiring, but if I already have a dozen inspirations then the challenge for the campaign is to work them all in, not to find more.

I suppose the challenge with most superhero games is that they tend to give you all the tools you need to build an entire universe in the main book so no supplement is really all that essential. Stats are easy, so books consisting mainly of more stats are not automatically awesome. Now that I've been somewhat negative what would I like to see?

  • When it comes to characters, good or bad, give me an interesting concept, backstory or origin that demands that I bring that character into my game. 
  • Locations locations locations, and I don't mean "Super City Zeta Prime". I mean "Grandma's Ice Cream Shop" complete with a map, an illustration, a description/backstory, and some characters. Specific locations, with flavor, and some stats, are something most games could use. These things connect characters more closely to the world, whether it's the scene of a battle, a romantic encounter, or a crime scene investigation. Details aid immersion and interesting details can be hard to come up with on the fly.
  • Organizations! Many superhero campaigns contain multiple good and evil agencies out to rule or save the world. Champions has been pretty good about detailing them but most supers games could stand more. Agenda, methods, gear, typical locations, typical operations, stats for operatives, vehicles, background, connections to other entities in the setting - all of these are useful bits of information, Also: illustrations of these things are a nice option too. They don't all have to be HYDRA either - what does NASA look like in a super-powered universe? How about the Coast Guard? With weather-controlling heroes in the world does NOAA take a more active role than just monitoring and predicting the weather? There's a lot of ground to explore.
So there's some thoughts and venting on Super Supplements. Things are always changing so maybe we will see more of the above ideas and less of a focus on pros & foes in future add-ons. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The new Metamorphosis Alpha is out.

So there is a new edition of MA out this month - it's available here.

There is a free preview document here which sheds some light on the background and the system.

I was not a part of the kickstarter but I have read through the preview document and I have a few thoughts:

  • First, I've always loved the concept of MA. The descendants inhabiting a lost generation ship is an awesome setting for a game and a step beyond the basic post-apocalyptic world in a lot of these swords & laser type of games. It's a game I always wanted to play or run but have never had the chance - Gamma World was our bread and butter for this kind of thing. 
  • Second - I really don't like that cover. It tells me nothing about the game and looks like it could be anything from a typical fantasy game to a stone age type of setting. Compare it to some of the old MA or GW covers and while it's more professional on the surface than some, it just doesn't convey anything about the game itself.
  • Third, I've never heard of "System 26" before this but it looks a lot like the basics of the classic Shadowrun rules and that could be just fine. You have a variable number of dice (d6's) with a variable target number and each die is a success or failure - more successes = a better overall result. 
Bonus thought: From the book itself:
"✇✇ “The Petting Zoo of Death” is an introductory

adventure for Metamorphosis Alpha. It offers a great
starting point to get a group of diverse characters
together and shows how scenarios are presented in
the game.

Yeah - that's a terrible name for the intro adventure too.Whatever seriousness is conveyed in the intro and background material flies right out the window upon reading that, and this is coming from a guy who was perfectly happy fighting Gallus-Gallus-13's in Famine in Far-Go years ago.

Despite the stylistic knocks I am more than a little interested. A classic setting with a ton of potential combined with a simple yet mechanically interesting system ... yes, I will probably pick it up at some point. The only thing holding me back at the moment is the giant backlog of RPG material I am reading through and the ever-present "when am I going to get to run this" conundrum. I'll work through those and let you know how the full game looks a little bit down the road.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Spirit of 77 - in Hardcopy!

The hardcopy books from the Kickstarter arrived this week and they look good. They are digest-sized, more like the Savage World books have become of late. I am a fan of PDFs, but there's still something about holding the book in your hand that feels good. It seemed particularly appropriate to post them up for Throwback Thursday.

Now to find time to read them ...

Friday, May 22, 2015

40K Friday - Catching Up

 I haven't played any 40K in the last 2 months but I have been working on some of the armies. Details below:


I finally picked up the "new" codex and started going through my existing army. This was going to be a project for 2016 but I decided I wasn't that far away from a usable force and I already had the parts. The "right now" force is shaping up like this:

  • Warboss + Nobz in a battlewagon
  • 3 mobs of boyz in battlewagons
  • A mob of infiltrating Kommandos
  • Dakka jet and a Burna-Bomma
  • Rokkit Launcher Buggies
  • Grots
This is just a regular CAD force for now and ends up around 2000 points. I have enough boyz to use the Ork Warband formation and the Ork Horde has some potential too. The biggest problem at the moment is that Heavy Support slots are over crowded. I'm working on a second CAD force as a Mekboy force - Mek Gunz, Kans, Tankbustas, another battlewagon, etc but the points get really high with "everything". It's going to take some experimentation to figure out whats fun for small/medium/large point values. The good thing is that almost everything in the above list is painted and finishing it up won't take much time. That's really the goal here is to get something together I can put on the table in a week or two.

Chaos Marines!

The Iron Warriors "ally contingent" (cough) has expanded beyond its original purpose and is becoming a full-fledged second Chaos Marine army. At the moment that's 3 squads of CSM's, a Rhino, a Helbrute, and a Heldrake, led by a Chaos Lord and a Warsmith. All of it is painted too, which is nice. Future goals include more rhinos, a triple-lascannon predator, and maybe some vindicators. I plan for it to be my vehicular CSM army so there's a lot of room to grow. 

Force Bane, the plague marine army, has not changed much. I am up to 6 squads of plague marines and I am still painting them. That's really the core of my army so I want to do it right. I've also made a little progress on the chaos spawn and it should take much to finish them up. once that's done it's really just touching up the havocs and then the Nurgle bikers and some terminators are all I have left to finish. Can I finish it this year? Hard to say. It seems totally doable, but the other armies on the list may distract me.

Blood Angels

All army parts acquired, very little work done on building and painting them. Pretty much the same plan as outlined in this post, just not much to report. 

Dark Angels

Not much progress here either. all parts acquired, all tanks built, squads and weapons allocated, everything base coated, but not much infantry actually completed. The basic outline is still the same as what I described in this post.  

I did add the Deathwing Knights and the Crusader. I also added a terminator chaplain as a possible second HQ unit (instead of the librarian) because he makes the Knights even nastier in melee and adds a little more punch to the squad - probably more than 2 warp charge dice are going to bring in a bigger battle. 

I added a third tactical squad to increase my options to something besides "more plasma". I have not added a third rhino to transport them as right now I see it more as a swap-out option than as adding a third squad to a fight. 

Finally I picked up a second Razorback to serve as a transport for the devastator squad. Why not add another vehicle and another heavy weapon to the mix?

It was a good cover ...

Oh boy, Eldar got a new codex and I've been furiously rearranging and acquiring the elements of what I want the army to be. 

I was working on an Iyanden-style all-wraith army as my core and the new codex slightly alters that with a new formation. I have all the pieces, I juts need to build and paint them now - same old story.

I also started refining my non-wraith units to form a Guardian Battlehost. I have everything for it except the artillery so that's high on the list of Things to Acquire. Supplemental forces will include aspect shrines and possibly the wraith host too.

So for smaller battles I can go with a CAD and/or the Wraith Host. Bigger fights could bring out the Battlehost formation with some extra support. 

The newly-squadron-ed eldar tanks are interesting but I don't have enough of them to make use of the special rules. I did pick up a pair of wave serpents to give the wraithguard some mobility but that's as far as I've gone. 

For this army I have plenty of options. the goal is to get it to a playable state and start figuring out what works and what is fun to play and moving in that direction. 


So ... five armies all in various stages of building. I don't know if I will "complete" any of them this year but I hope to get them all into shape as a playable force - even a small force - and get in some games with each of them. I don't recommend this approach if you're just getting started but it's where I am at the moment.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Long Term RPG Thoughts

I haven't run or played anything in more than a month - taking care of business etc. I have had some time to reflect on the whole hobby though.

  • It takes a fairly high level of effort to conceive, create, begin, and maintain an ongoing RPG campaign. 
  • It takes a long term commitment to keep one going, for the GM and the players. 
  • Playing takes up space and time.
  • The books take up space and typically are not free. If you're like me they can take up a lot of space. 
  • There is an opportunity cost as well - if you're playing for six hours on a Friday night that's time you are not doing something else. 

All of these things may sound obvious but I think that we (and I know I do) often sink down into the daily or weekly routines and don't really assess what the upsides and downsides are of these things.  For a casual player who owns a few books and plays a few times a month it's probably not that much. For those of us who are more into it though, who are constantly running, playing, or thinking about them, it can be difficult to step back and look at the bigger picture.

On one level, no matter what you're playing you are having fun spending time with friends and family and that's a good thing to have in your life on a regular schedule.

But it doesn't hurt to ask questions of oneself: Is this still a good way to spend my time? What else could I be doing with that time/money/effort/mindspace? Do I need all of this stuff? Do I truly enjoy the specific game I am running? How about the people I am playing it with? Where does this rank among my priorities? What about my other interests and hobbies?

If you're a single guy in your teens or twenties you probably have a different set of conditions than the forty-something married with kids guy who is writing this, and that's cool because I was there once too. Things change though - relationships, living space, finances, families - all can have an impact. For me there were the junior high /early high school days, then the later high school days with a job and a car, then the college days with new friends, and then the post-college days of singlehood and full time employment, and then the family days of adding a wife and kids on top of the full time job. It's worth re-assessing the whole picture every so often to see how it's working for you right now.

Now I'm not planning any drastic changes for myself right now. I considered thinning out the RPG collection but there's not a really urgent need to do so. I did end the Necessary Evil/City of Heroes game because while it was fun I was having trouble meeting the commitment and it just is not worth the aggravation when I can't maintain it like I want to. For now I'm running the one Pathfinder campaign bi-weekly and playing in another one monthly and that's enough. Anything beyond that will probably be one-offs or a limited 2-3 session game planned that way from the start. I feel like I need to spend a little more time with the non-RPG'er friends and family and that's the way I see to do it. I'd love to run a regular, ongoing supers campaign but if there's any genre best suited to short runs and one-offs it has to be superheroes and that's how I'm going to handle it for now.

I know it's not for everyone but right now I am totally happy running and playing Pathfinder. I accepted long ago that I would always have a "D&D" game if I was playing at all, and anything else would be a bonus after that. If I can work in some M&M/Champions/ICONS?Marvel after that I would be very happy too.  Spirit of 77, Feng Shui, Deadlands, and other Savage Worlds games are going to have to be one-shots or irregular games at best. Star Wars and Star Trek are "someday" games where I'm going to have to round up some new players to make them happen and I just don't have the bandwidth to do that - but I might someday.

So I'm still going to be involved in RPG's and they are still one of my hobbies. I may not have quite as much to say because I'm not as worried about the day to day new type stuff about them right now and I'm not running quite as much as I have been in the past. I will talk about what I do run here though and try to keep the focus on running and playing and less on theory, news, and generic stuff. More "games I like and am playing" and less "gaming stuff" in general.