Friday, November 1, 2013

40K Friday - Death Guard

I've been slowly acquiring needed pieces and putting parts together for my chaos marine army. I know CSM's are not highly regarded right now in the competitive 40K scene but I don't do this for tournaments. I had a 40K Chaos army back in 2nd edition (back when Abaddon was a new mini) but I later traded it away for more Orks - because you always need more Orks! This was one of those things that taught me never to trade away painted figs because I will regret it later - because I did.

I actually started picking up pieces and units during 5th edition but I never put them together because I just wasn't feeling the inspiration I needed to get it started. I kept picking up things that looked interesting and waited for that light-bulb moment. Now my only fully built and painted Warhammer Fantasy army is a Chaos Warrior army that goes back to 3rd Edition, so I'm comfortable playing the badguys. That army does have a theme though and I wanted to have something like that to guide my assembly of the force as it helps me decide what makes sense to include and what does not rather than just grabbing everything and throwing together a scratch force every time I play.

Last year I finally felt like I had a concept:What if my army was a force trapped in the warp aboard a space hulk and whenever I used them in a fight it meant the hulk had emerged into space near a planet? The random nature of the warp and the screwy nature of time there meant I could justify all kinds of ridiculousness in terms of time and place. Say, a demon prince, a chaos sorcerer and a band of survivors stranded aboard a hulk. This would also influence what kinds of units would be included, as it seems unlikely that a massive tank force would be carried aboard a hulk, so this would mostly be an infantry and walker force and maybe ... bikes. At the time that seemed like an interesting mix of forces. Then the new codex came out and every CSM army seems to include bikes anyway so it's not quite as novel as it was.

This concept would also give me a reason to do some interesting bases. I've decided to do a metal decking/grid thing with them - once I have some finished samples I will share.I tend to do plain "turf" bases and once you start an army you're kind of chained to that particular approach. Any update of the basing requires you to go back and do all of the bases if you want to keep a unified look. I usually do want that as consistent basing is one of the things that brings an army together as a unified force -  visually speaking. A few years ago when I last expanded my fantasy chaos army I went with snow bases because I wanted something different and because they were supposed to be invaders from the north. Going back and updating the older parts of the army was easy because you just put snow on top of whatever is already there - just like reality! Metal deck grids are not something that's easily retrofit onto a painted mini but since it's a new army I don;t have to worry about that part. Since I am doing it myself I am not dependent on "custom base X" from a particular model company being available and that's something I don't want anyway as I tend to add to them and keep armies for the long haul.

So now I have a concept, I have a pile of mini's, I have an interesting base idea. What do I want them to be? The "stranded" concept screams Nurgle to me and explains why the force is reduced from whatever it used to be - they are the survivors of some horrible plague, the "chosen" of Nurgle. The only problem is that I am not all that thrilled with the standard color scheme for Nurgle of blah green + rust + the occasional pink intestine or yellow eyeball. It just isn't that visually appealing to me. There is hope though:

The pre-heresy Death guard legion uses a green on white scheme that looks pretty nice, and I don't have a set of white-armored marines. Even if I dirty them up they should still stand out. I really like the painting guide I found here - that's a good looking paint job, especially when the whole army is lined up.

Force-wise I see a Nurgle Chaos Lord in terminator armor, a Chaos Sorcerer on a bike, and a demon prince as my HQ's. The termie lord will lead a couple of units of Nurgle terminators, the psycher biker will lead a Nurgle-marked bike squad, For Troops there will be a couple of units of plague marines and regular CSM's and possibly some cultists just because I have them. For heavy support I'm building a unit of Havocs for now, and I have a pair of helbrutes for any leftover Elite slots. In the near future I'd like to add a heldrake but I don't have one yet.

Not everything will be in every force but the basic strategy is hold some objectives with the troops while the bikes and termies (and heldrake) clear the enemy off of the others. Details will vary but that's the basic approach for now.

So far:

There's 1 CSM squad, 1 terminator squad, some bike parts, and an otyugh who will be a chaos spawn for this army. Yes, there are some normal marines mixed in there to represent the less-corrupted members of the force.

There's the rest of the terminator parts, six bikes & bikers and the sorcerer and his bike. We're just in the "primed white" stage but it's a start. The two six-man plague marine squads are already primed as is the demon prince so the core is pretty much handled. Now I need to get some actual color on them. The whole army is a mix of old-school metal chaos and some of the newer plastics. I think a decent paint job will unify them. My take is that this unit of Death Guard is still largely in their pre-heresy colors but is inevitably sliding toward that Nurgle guts-hangin-out look that most of the modern units have. Being in and out of the warp means that different units do it at a different rate - some of them are nearly pristine white and un-mutated while others look like normal plague marines. It should be fun and if I do it right it gives me a little variety in painting while keeping the army looking like it belongs together. More to come!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Wednesday night was busy getting some last minute things done for our usual holiday get-together and Thursday will be busy having the Halloween party - lots of Halloweening going on here. So I thought I would share some fun stuff:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Emerald City

So I saw this Monday night:

.. and I thought cool, it's finally on the way. I'll have to look at it and see how much and when.

Then on Tuesday I received this:

... and I was thinking this was a pre-order for the PDF- NOPE! It's the actual PDF! You can go to DTRPG and download it now!

As much as I like PDF's for some parts of RPG's I still forget sometimes how the timing works on these things now: If it's ready to print it's ready to sell as a PDF!

Now if this was another enemies type book I'd be fine picking up a PDF - I've come to realize that those benefit a lot from the electronic option as I can print out only the parts I need. Especially in a supers game I find I only need a couple of pages to run an entire evening. This is how I have been using the Threat Reports for M&M.

Short adventures are handy in PDF too - print the stat parts out, maybe the map pages, and run the rest from a laptop or tablet. The many adventures for ICONS have been nice using this kind of approach.

This, however, is not an enemies book. It's a setting - with a poster map and other goodies.I'd really rather have this one on paper to flip though, pass around the table, and otherwise handle. That's just my own preference.

It is more expensive (double the PDF, and that's not a cheap PDF either, but it is a lot of material) and it will take longer, but it's worth it to me.

Then of course there is the larger question of "how will I use it?" or "when will I run it?" and that's hard to say. I've gotten away from buying stuff I know I won't use but I am trying to pick up everything for M&M as it comes out because it all feeds into a mighty, mighty system for a superhero RPG. Even if I don't run it as-is, there's a chance parts might appear in my own setting.

I'm also toying with the idea of giving it to one of the Apprentices, unread, and telling them to get ready to run it. It's just a glimmer right now, but it's there.

Regardless of the eventual usage I'm happy to see it released and I will post more about it when I do actually do something with it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Overreaction Tuesday

There have been a few developmentss since the last time I posted about Next:

From last week's Q&A:

 How would a 3.5 prestige class designed to be taken by a multiclass character, like mystic theurge, be modeled in D&D Next as a subclass?

While we can’t yet talk about which specific subclasses we’re going to end up with, we’re looking into “multiclass friendly” subclasses to help blend the spellcasting classes with those that are not spellcasting classes. This goes in both directions; while we might have a subclass for, say, the fighter that makes it easier for that class to multiclass with a spellcasting class, we’re also considering subclasses for spellcasting classes, like the druid or sorcerer, that make them friendlier for weapon use. For the classes that already mix weapon use and magic, like the bard, cleric, paladin, and ranger, we are less likely to look for subclasses for that purpose. For any concepts not quite rich enough to support an entire subclass, we’re also looking into feats as a potential way to deliver some class-blending aspects, much like what you would expect from the multiclass feats from 4th Edition, especially since the feat design we have right now packs a lot of punch into a single feat.

Wow, I thought multiclassing was settled pretty well in that last packet but now we're tweaking sub-classes for it and we might also use Feats for it? Options are great but this could turn into a mess really quickly if someone takes a few levels in two or three classes, takes a multi-classing feat or two, and then moves into a prestige class. It doesn't really matter until we get details but the 3E approach they've published gives a player two ways to mix in more flavor: per-level multiclassing and prestige classes. I think adding feats into the mix could be interesting but how does it improve the game or add options that those other two do not? I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

"Here's the windup..."

From the week before:

What is happening in the game world when a fighter deals damage on a missed attack?

Since Armor Class represents a combination of agility and the ability to absorb the impact of the weapon (for example, why a suit of plate, by default, has a higher AC than leather armor), we like to think of it as the fighter character striking the body of the target, and the armor (or hide) absorbing the brunt of the damage, but not all of it; the strike was so brutal and skillfully placed that it did more than anyone else could have done with the same attack. For anyone except a fighter with this very specific training, the armor/hide/scales would normally absorb the full impact of the strike, thus dealing no damage and being described as a miss.

If there were two early and consistent complaints about 4E they were 1) Fighter Daily Powers and 2) "Dissociated Mechanics" where it was hard to tie the game mechanics to a physical action as it happened. This question touches on elements of both and WOTC needs to tread carefully here to avoid the same kind of blowback as we saw with 4E. "Damage on a Miss" is an interesting mechanic and I think it has a place in a game where specific mechanics play a big part in defining a character. If they handle this right - and I like the answer above - then maybe we will see some similar things included for other classes and game abilities.

"ARGH!" (see below)
From the week before that:

Mike mentioned in Legends and & Lore that sorcerer and warlock were back to being full classes instead of mage subclasses; is this true for psions as well?

Right now, psionics are not a priority for our design. Because we have many different ways we could go with the design of psionics, we don't have anything further to announce about psionics at this point.

That's very polite. I'm reading it as "Dear fans: please stop freaking out about trying to cram psionic powered characters into the wizard framework because they won;t be in the first set of books anyway." That's a smart play, even if they let that storm brew a little too long.


Finally, this came in my DDI monthly renewal notice email over the weekend:

Should you decide to renew your subscription, we wanted to make you aware of some upcoming changes to DDI.  As we look to the future launch of D&D Next, we are shifting our focus to the development and support of the new rules set, which will impact the Dungeons & Dragons Insider subscription service:

• DDI will remain available to those who still wish to access all the great 4th Edition Magazines and Tools as part of the DDI subscription.
• Starting in March of 2014, the DDI tool set (Character Builder, Adventure Tools and Compendium), will no longer be updated with new 4th Edition game content.
• Existing issues of Dungeon magazine and Dragon magazine will continue to be offered for viewing.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere the last issues of Dragon and Dungeon would be in December 2013. Maybe that changed or maybe the extra three months gives them time for any bug fixes or additional updates to wrap things up. At least they're getting the word out now - I appreciate that.

If you're wondering why I still pay for this it's simple: I'm still running it. If you're running a 4E campaign having the compendium at your fingertips - all of the items and abilities - is a nice thing. The monster tweaker is handy too. That said, If my campaign ended next week I'd drop the subscription at the next opportunity as that is it's only real value for me.

 I do wonder what they're going to do with the whole DDI concept for Next - that's some nice reliable income but so many other games (like Pathfinder) have similar (or better) tools available for free that I wonder if it's sustainable for another edition. My own guess would be "no" but I don't know that the corporate outlook will see it the same way. Maybe they will  take a note from MMO games right now and go with the pay-once model (buy the box ala Guild Wars 2) or free base game but pay for the expansions like some other games. I think it would be simpler to just make it free to begin with but like I said, most companies are going to want to monetize their digital content so I doubt that will happen. The presence or absence of an open license may play a role here too. There are some rumors going around that there will be but nothing really solid yet.

Monday, October 28, 2013

13th Age SRD

Well I'm not really doing anything with it right now but there is an open version of it out there.

Original (downloadable documents) version is here.

Nifty online hyperlinked version is here.

One of these days I'll probably take a serious run at a campaign with it but for now 4E, Pathfinder, and Next have filled in the fantasy RPG space at the table.

Motivational Monday

Preferred Tanker: Fire Tankers - BURN! Invulnerability was probably my second favorite. Draco was my main here but I played many, many tankers.