Friday, December 30, 2016

40K Friday: 2016 and Closing Out the Year of the Eldar

Wanting to use your Stompa more sometimes means it shows up as "terrain" rather than as part of an army
We had a big finish here for the year for Warhammer 40,000. Apprentice Blaster and I wanted to try out some of our other armies so we decided to play a four game escalation series with 500, 1000, 1500, and 2000 point battles. I wanted to get more practice with the Blood Angels and he wanted to dust off his Space Wolves who have spent most of this year sitting on the shelf watching the Eldar steal the spotlight. So in the last ten days or so I've gotten in 4 games of 40K which is far better than we usually manage. I'll have a more detailed write up on these later but it was good to get in a groove as a lot (though not all) of the head-scratching rules lookup melts away and the thing is just fun. Highlight: Mephiston managed to kill 3 dreadnaughts single handed in two games so there were some epic moments. DO NOT attack him with dreads when his lightsaber is activated!

In 40K this is one of the good guys ...
Blaster and Red also got in a bonus game  which was the traditional "Christmas Battle" where they try out whatever new units they got for Christmas. For the last few years I go find a nicely painted unit for one of their armies and make that a present for them so it a) doesn't add to the painting backlog and b) they can use it right away. Blaster's Eldar (and his new Scorpions) beat Red's Necrons (and his new pair of Annihilation Barges) but they had a good time.

Back to the "Year of the Eldar" - it's been a lot of fun. Focusing on one army has really made a difference. I have still managed to add units and get some painting done on my Chaos Marines (particularly the Iron Warriors) and Blood Angels but the emphasis was on Eldar and most of my efforts went there. I've only used the Wraithknight twice but even in a traditional CAD force a wraith-heavy army painted up in Iyanden colors just looks right.

  • Iyanden Eldar: I am still finishing up the Wraithnknight and the Spiritseer for the wraith host I started a year ago but I should finish them tomorrow. Hey, that's still technically finishing them in 2016! I'm finishing up a full unit of Vaul's Wrath big guns (D-cannons when you can't field the WK) which will probably be done today and I'm finally finishing the first of the Dark Reaper squads I've been wanting to use for so long. With  some luck I may finish all 3 squads tomorrow too. With what I have already finished that's a pretty serious force and it will all be painted!
  • Dark Eldar: They had a really good year. I called them out in 2015 as a new allied experiment and I have enjoyed them every time I've played them. I added a second raider, a squad of scourges, and based up about 40 more warriors. The archon, two squads, the scourges, and one of the raiders are even base coated now! Regardless of what I decree as the main army for 2017 these guys are on the short list for finishing up to an "allied force org" level.  
  • Chaos Death Guard: I didn't really add anything here but I did sort out what I have and figure out what I want the force to be. It's a bunch of ground-pounding plague marines + cultists + possessed + demon princes backed by missile launcher havocs and a defiler. That's pretty much what it's been but I'm changing out the fast attack section from a squad of spawn+ bikes to 3 maxed out spawn squads. More on the thinking here later.
  • Chaos Iron Warriors: Core is Chaos Lord and Warpsmith leading 3 squads of marines in rhinos backed by autocannon havocs and a tri-las predator with air cover from a heldrake. The bikers from the Nurgle crew above are moving over to this force which gives them another speed unit.  I did some work on them as far as bases and I also built and painted the triple-helbrute deep strike formation.  I managed to play these guys a few times this year and I like the way they're shaping up. Chaos could still use a new book but I don;t feel like I have zero chance when I line this force up.
  • Dark Angels: I didn't add a ton to these guys this year but I did pull all of them out onto a table in the last week along with the Blood Angels and reshuffle some units between the two. I still have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with these guys - they are my mechanized, shooting marines. The Lion's Blade company is the goal here. I just need to buckle down and get them to "playable", which they are not right now.   
  • Blood Angels: Ah, I've liked these guys since 2nd Edition and I've been slowly collecting a force for them over the last 3 years or so. Now I am finally playing them and that puts them in contention for being next year's "Army of the Year" but I haven't completely decided. Considering I have most of the pieces for them and the Dark Angels (and the Crimson Fists too) I may make next year the "Year of Marines" and try and get all of my marine forces whipped into shape. As far as BA's specifically after playing them recently they are my "fast close-in" marines. I have only used them on foot, with jump packs, on bikes, and in drop-pods through these games and I think that's the direction I'm going to stay rather than going heavy on rhino's and razorbacks and tanks. 
The Orks, Demons, Crimson Fist marines went thru 2016 with no real changes. I played Orks once and I might have allied in some demons with one of my CSM forces but that's the only action any of these saw. 

I did add the Khorne Demonkin book a few days ago so I may look at building out a force for that too - for now based entirely on what I have on hand. I'm not interested right now in building that up too much but I do have some berserkers, bloodletters, and other Khorne units sitting around. Why not give the Bloodthirster an army of his own?

So today and tomorrow are finishing up the Eldar for now and seeing what I can do to finish up some Dark Eldar too. I may do the Iron Warrior bikers on Sunday as they should be fairly quick to paint and don't take a ton of detailing to look good. Then it's deciding on the big push for 2017. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Old Video: A Night's Work (Shadowrun promo, 1990)

Somehow I've never seen this before. Not that it's good. Now my year is complete.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Been busy for the last week with time off and family and holidays but I will be back online next week to wrap up the year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

40K Friday: Ponies

There was a Hello Kitty necron army a few years back but this is the most unusual one I've heard of recently. Not sure the world needed it but here's a link to an article with more pics and details.

Original Ebay Auction is here.

I'd love to see something like this at Adepticon or the Bay Area Open. We need more crazy in this hobby.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

M&M: The Big Game

So I started what I hope will be the "ultimate game" the day after Thanksgiving. I ended up with 5 players - two of my regulars, two of my Apprentices, and a friend of Apprentice Red's. We ran for about 8 hours which is a good long session for us. It was not quite as productive as I had hoped so we came nowhere close to finishing the adventure but it was a good start. People ran late, people had to finish making characters, we had to make some introductions of those characters, and we had to have a quick run-through of the rules but I didn't mind - those are all part of kicking off a new campaign.

So what did we play? Time of Crisis! Originally written for 1E M&M, updated for 2E in the GM screen for that edition, and updated to 3E by ... me. There are almost zero published adventures for superhero games that I think are worth running (except for ICONS!) but ToC is one of them. It's very much an "event" type adventure and I have wanted to run it for a group that would appreciate it for years. Being somewhat heavily structured, it's good for a new group too as they can focus on accomplishing a series of tasks to SAVE THE UNIVERSE under circumstances that mean even heroes who might not get along normally have a reason to work together.

I'm not going to get into all of the details as we only got through part of the adventure. The short version is that after Omega finally manages to shatter the cosmos a random group of heroes is rescued by a powerful entity and sent on a series of "missions" to undo the damage and save reality. Each of these takes place on an alternate universe and the first one is one where Nazi's won WW2. Right away the heroes are getting to punch Nazis and throw tanks at airplanes in a much-worse-off version of Freedom City. There is more fun to be had in subsequent parts but that's as far as we made it this time. The players were all pretty excited during the game and liked what they saw so things are looking really positive.

Our Heroes:

  • US Patriot - super-strong, super-tough, flying symbol of patriotism
    (known hero in Freedom City)
  • The Descendant - heir to an ancient legacy tied to artifacts of elemental power
    (new hero)
  • Dark Justice - lurking, menacing, bringing justice to the streets - dark justice
    (known hero is Freedom City)
  • Heavy Metal - builder and wearer of a hi-tech armored battlesuit to defend the defenseless and make a difference in the world
    (new hero)
  • Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, aka The Flash - yep, that guy. This whole flashpoint thing is way out of control
(Red's friend really likes Flash, especially the show, and wanted to play him. With the DC Adventures books as a reference how could I say no? It's not like Barry isn't getting into this kind of thing all the time anyway. We down-powered him to PL10 and went with it.)

The only downer was that schedules were not compatible for December, smashing my hopes of wrapping it up this month. January 2nd we gather again to hopefully resolve the Crisis. It's a big gap but I'm going to try and work in an M&M game during the holiday break with a different set of heroes to keep it somewhat fresh for most of the players.

So, the game is started. For 2017 I have decided to run an ongoing M&M game monthly. That will be the Freedom City game taking off from this kickoff adventure. I have 12 adventure ideas sketched out and will run one of them each month for whoever can make it. Other sessions will use FC or work in Emerald City or Atomic City depending on who's playing and what makes sense. I'll talk about how its going and what is or isn't working here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Ideas for 2017: More Tower of Zenopus from The Tower of Zenopus

I named the blog after the adventure in the back of the Holmes Basic edition of D&D because that's where I started with RPG's. It was the first adventure I read and the first adventure I ran. It occurs to me that I haven't referred to it on the blog in years - about five years. As discussed in that post I am considering working up versions of that old dungeon for other games. I could work it up as the lair of a mystical supervillain easily enough for my M&M game. I could work it into Deadlands fairly easily as well. It's perfect as the old hideout of some dark side mystic in a Star Wars game. A Pathfinder conversion is trivial. Why haven't I done this before?

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

40K Friday on Sunday: Other Miniatures Options for 2017

Anthony posted a comment on Friday's post that mentioned getting Bolt Action mini's ready as well as 40K. Yeah, similar problems here. I tend to focus on 40K because that's what we play the most but we go beyond that when we can. For 2016 I even made some deliberate efforts in that direction:

  • I was determined to get in some games of Bolt Action so I went back to work on the 1/72 plastics I had from a while back. I also took a turn and got interested in playing more Pacific battles so I started looking into 28mm Marines and Japanese options. Then I saw a second edition was on the way and put the whole thing on hold. 2017 might be the time to get serious about my WW2 interests again and make this a real option. I was focused on 20mm or 1/72 plastics because they are cheap and a ton of stuff is available but so much of our terrain is 28mm and sometimes looks out of place for them. not so much hills/rocks/trees but the buildings are a real problem.
  • I did, finally, get the two-player starter set for Dropzone Commander. It is a lot like epic, I really like the rules and the design overall, but I got bogged down while building the armies and it sits in a half-finished state, unplayed thus far. I really need to fix that.
  • Frostgrave: It's a cool game, love the rules, but we just haven't found the time. Anything that uses the D&D mini's we already have and plays fairly fast has a chance here though.
  • Flames of War: Bought an older rulebook cheap, read those rules, remembered why I lost interest the first time. Plus it's even more out of scale at 15mm. everything I have is built for either 6mm or 28mm. I'm not likely to buy or build a 3rd set of terrain for one game. 
  • Kings of War: We repurposed my old Warhammer High Elves and Orcs for this game, wokred up some temp bases to stick them on and played 3 or 4 games of it. It's a lot of fun and plays quick without getting bogged down in umpteen special rules for each unit/leader/magic item. I like it a lot. I'm considering whether to rebase the old Chaos Warriors for it and I'm eyeballing the leftover Lizardmen I have so clearly it's found a home.
  • X-Wing! Hey at least you don't have to paint the damn ships! We play this intermittently and I suspect it will resurface during the holiday break. It tends to spring up in conversations like this: Well I could go buy a new tank or a codex for 40K and spend the next few days reading it or building and painting up that unit -or- I could buy 4-5 new X-Wing ships for that same amount and be playing with them as soon as we get home. It's an easy decision sometimes.
Anyway I will probably pick one or two of those to bump up to "real, playable game" status alongside occasional Star Wars space skirmishes. If we do anything serious we will put some pictures here, 

Friday, December 9, 2016

40K Friday: Thinking about 2017

For 2016 I decided to focus on a single army and set a goal to turn it into a painted, use-able force over the course of the year. I took the pile of Eldar parts I had sitting around, acquired some more as the year went on and I am pretty happy with the outcome. It wasn't a 100% pure effort as I took some short side treks with the Iron Warriors and the Blood Angels but it all worked out really well.

(That's why the header for the blog is what it is - it was a theme!)

Now of course I have to decide what to tackle next year. The Eldar are handled. Leading candidates right now are:
  • Dark Eldar - take them from allies to full army. I think I have finally figured out a paint scheme I can live with for them.
  • Dark Angels - finish a completely modern space marine army. I already have the army, most of it is built, and most of it is base coated. i just need to focus in to finish it and play it.
  • Blood Angels - another partly-built army with lots of almost-ready parts. They're not as big in the current meta but I rarely let that drive my long-term decisions.
  • Iron Warriors - They're actually pretty close to done anyway. The combination of simple but effective paint scheme and limiting expansion units to stuff that's already painted means I do not have a huge backlog here. There isn't a year's worth of work here unless I go nuts with expanding the army. They may stay a "side" army.
  • CSM Nurgle - I started these guys what seems like a long time ago and I never quite finish them. 
With rumors of an 8th edition coming next year and that it will include significant changes to the rules I am not terribly concerned with game performance as much as getting an army sorted out, built, and painted. Playing it would be nice too.

Dark horse candidates:

  • I have some uncommitted marines, basically the Black Reach force plus a few extras. Do I need yet another marine army? or is it time to bring the Howling Griffons into the new era with new additions?
  • Orks? So much "almost finished" but they are so terrible under the current rules. This is the one army where the state of the game is holding me back. They are that bad, especially compared to where they were for so long.
  • "The Year of Terrain" - maybe it's time to focus on building up what we play on and around rather than one particular army.

I'll probably ponder out loud in this space for the rest of December so more to come on it for sure. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Ideas for 2017: Changing up the Schedule

The Pathfinder game has really hit a wall this year. By holding fast to the idea that I must have all 3 players present to run I thought I was ensuring the best game. What I ensured instead was less game - a lot less. We're in the single digits for the year for sessions played.  It's not any one persons fault either as the schedule issues have been pretty evenly spread between us. That doesn't make it better though and it's embarrassing to write it here.

I keep calling it the "main" game yet we've spent more sessions playing other games than we have my "main" game.  I've run more sessions of Star Wars  than I have my Pathfinder game in 2016. That's with two different systems but still ...

The once-a-month-game that I play in has had more sessions this year than my planned-as-twice-a-month-campaign! After talking through December schedules with my players, we won't get a chance to play again the rest of this year. We may play other stuff with a different mix of players but this particular trio is done until January.

So I have to change some things up. The plan is not working. I'm seriously thinking about cutting it back to once a month, setting a fixed weekend for it, starting earlier, and setting the player minimum to "two" instead of "three'. I spent 2016 being flexible, planning on the fly for the next game (or trying to anyway) and instead of making it easier to fit in I flexed myself right out of a campaign.

I'm looking at something like this right now:

  • 1st weekend: The Freedom City campaign. Whoever is interested and can make it can play, no player continuity required. 
  • 3rd weekend: Wrath of the Righteous

2nd and 4th weekends would be other non-gaming stuff, the once a month Kingmaker game I am playing in, and the occasional "other" game depending on which set of apprentices and friends is available and interested. Heck, I'm toying with the idea of a weeknight game again - I just have to ask each of the players if that's even an option instead of jumping on WoW or SWTOR. With one more kid graduating high school next spring it may not even be realistic but I'm still thinking about it.

If I can't run the Righteous with a two-player minimum  (They run 2 characters each. Two Mythic characters) then at some point I'm going to have to shelve it and see what else I can do. I'd hate to do it but it feels a little like I'm swimming upstream here. It's also a disappointing thought because I have other PF AP's I'd like to run. It's taken us 3 years to get to the halfway point of this one and that's with only 4 schedules to consider! 

I'm a little pessimistic now that this long term campaign format will work for us. I think a more flexible set of smaller adventures like I used to run may be the way forward - regardless of the game - instead of the sprawling epic that takes years to complete. If most of my group can really only have one regular main game - and even that is a debatable point right now - then I don't want to spend six years on one set of adventures.  I'd rather cover more ground as I have a lot of other awesome games that we could do in that time. I'd rather do six games for a year each in six years than six volumes of an AP with the same characters in that time. 

I know Savage Worlds, I know - you give a decent amount of crunch and still play way faster than Pathfinder for us.
I'd like to do something that plays a little faster too. We still spend a fair amount of time bogged down in mechanics because we don't play as often as we had planned so we don't get that sustained learning curve. It's also worse than a regular PF game as 1) They play two characters each which doubles the workload in mechanics-heavy situations like combat and 2) Mythic - it adds a whole new layer of special abilities that key off of or enable other special abilities and keeping track of those connections and abilities in play is a challenge, even  running PF Combat Manager on my side and  HeroLab for iPad on their side.  

So I don't have a great answer yet but I'm working on it. Feel free to make suggestions if you have any ideas. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One Last Post on How Many Games Do You Need?

Thinking some more about yesterday's post I decided to make a list of what games would I most like to run if given the chance and a guarantee of some interested players. This started with the idea of a top 5 or top 10 and that pretty much failed. In no particular order:

  • Mutants and Masterminds! I've talked about three different settings for it just in the last two weeks!
  • For Pathfinder I'm still looking forward to Iron Gods, Giantslayer, The Mummy's Mask, and doing something with The Emerald Spire (beyond watching one of my kids run it).
  • Star Wars! D6? Saga? FFG? Savage Worlds? Yes please.
  • Star Trek! FASA! LUG! The new thing!
  • Savage Worlds: Deadlands! 50 Fathoms! Slipstream! Hell on Earth! Necessary Evil! Zombie Stuff! R-I-F-T-S! (note to self - really need to make Savage Worlds a regular thing next year)
  • Runequest: old school Runequest. I've never run it, therefore I must run it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4E: because I like it and I have 3 unfinished campaigns. The binders stare at me from the shelf , biding their time.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 5E: Seems like I should run some of this before declaring it "meh"
  • Labyrinth Lord: the Stonehell Dungeon. I like it. It's made to run. It too has a binder that lurks in the corner of the room, waiting.
  • Gamma World: I have 5 or 6 editions of it and I've had a blast every time I've run or played it, yet my kids have no idea what it's like. I should fix that.
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics seems cool and I have some adventures. I just need time to do it.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: A great game, very different from D&D, worthy of a solid campaign, yet it sits on my shelf with one whole session run in the last ten years. 
  • Shadowrun: 2E or 3E; I have everything they printed for these (and 1E), it's a blast and right in some of players' wheelhouses ...  and I haven't run anything for it in ten years either. How does this happen?
  • Hero System: Champions! Fantasy Hero! Tons of published and homebrewed material going back to the 80's and yet I'm not sure the last time I asked somebody what their PD, ED,  or their SPD was. 
Now we have worked in some Star Wars and some Deadlands and some Marvel Heroic in the last year alongside the Pathfinder games but most of what I have listed here hasn't been run or played in years. And this is the stuff I actually want to play, the stuff I have written campaigns for, the stuff I think about from time to time! 

(The stuff I wonder "when I am ever going to run them" as those are all big time investments if I'm going to do them right) 

Combining two things and .. yeah, kind of like that I guess
How is a new game supposed to compete with that? Well, it is still possible:
  1. "Savage Rifts" - take two things I already like and combine them to make something better. That gets my attention.
  2. "Marvel Heroic Roleplaying" - take something familiar and come at it in a totally different way than what we've had before. It may not be to everyone's taste but it does make you think about this genre in a different way. The kids love it and you could almost use the XP system as a drinking game for the grown ups. "Do a shot every time Black Panther declares something to be a threat to Wakanda!"
  3. "FFG Star Wars" - I'm still not sure if the custom dice are a gimmick or a true innovation but it is a notably different approach to mechanics. D6 fit a certain style of game, Saga fit a different style of game, and I'm still trying to place this one as far a style. I think it wants to be more like d6 and it may get there with experience but right now it feels more like one of the d20 versions. Regardless, it has my attention.
Outside of these types of games it's tougher to pique my interest these days. Some of that is Experience Overload which is a dramatic way of saying "37 years of the same hobby". It sometimes makes me wonder about things when I see something touted as new that was part of a game in 1984 or some other far off time.   Whether it's in the OSR, some new 3rd party thing for Traveller, or yet another new supers game it's always entertaining when something I saw in a Dragon article when I was 14 turns up again as "new". 

Wow. Up next: Shouting kids off of the lawn

There's still plenty of room for new things. M&M was pretty radical when it came out and had no hit point type mechanic (a staple of RPG's in general) and no endurance type mechanic (a staple of Champions). D&D 4E was pretty radical when it came out too, unfortunately to its detriment.  Savage Worlds is a wild change for someone used to a lot of other games and cards are still an under-used mechanical option in my opinion. 

Member when these were new?
I member.
A Star Wars game! Not a D&D mish-mash or a Traveller conversion but a real published licensed Star Wars game! How cool was that going to be?
I asked over on Robb's Blog in a comment if we were becoming like elitist Cinephiles: jaded to the point that almost everything can be dismissed as tripe because it's been done before and only obscure things most people have never see or heard of are worthy of praise. I also occasionally worry that with the big pile of games upstairs and the long history in the hobby I'm becoming like the worst audiophiles: that if you don't have at least $10,000 worth of high end audio equipment your opinion isn't worth hearing.  That's not who I want to be.

Seeing new or younger gamers in the hobby is a little like being a parent. The kids get excited about something that you know is a piece of junk because you've seen it before and you have to decide whether to tell them it's a piece of junk and why -or- to keep quiet and let them get excited and have their fun with it. With where they are in their life vs. yours it's possible that yes it is a piece of junk but it is also a heckuva lot of fun for them. It's also possible they will learn the same lesson on their own. Hopefully without losing an eye.

I still like new games. Some of them anyway. More than a lot of people that have been at this for a long time judging from what I see online. That said:
  • "New" doesn't impress me just because it's new
  • "Different" doesn't impress me just because it's different
  • What's the point of your game? What does it do better? Why would I choose it over one of those games in that long list at the top of this post? Tell me. Show me.
Err ... yeah. Sorta like that. Kinda. Maybe.

 So I'll try to be more like David Tennant's Doctor Who: using years of experience to keep an eye out for both new good stuff and new bad stuff while trying to guide the next generation to the good and staying chipper and cheerful along the way. 

More like this guy, less like "The Architect" from The Matrix

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Many Games is Enough?

Barking Alien had a great post last week about how he really doesn't need more games. He likes new games, but that's different than needing them. I'm pretty much in the same ballpark. A current example:

If I want to run a Star Trek game I have -

  • FASA Trek
  • Last Unicorn Trek
  • Decipher Trek
  • Where No Man Has Gone Before
  • Various other options from a Savage Worlds conversion to GURPS Prime Directive
So there are at least 5 different ways to play a Trek RPG. Now we have Modiphius' new "double d20, all-era's, full support promised" line of Trek RPG goodness promised for 2017. I'm digging through the playtest rules and while I don't hate it I do start to wonder how much I need another Trek game. Granted, most of the other options are over a decade old but there hasn't been much new development in the Trek universe in that decade. The Abrams movies, sure, but those could be run with the old systems pretty easily. 

If I liked d6 Star Wars, I was good through the 90's but once the prequels started coming out there was a lot of new stuff to address in the game. If you like "official" stats for your powers and vehicles and gear then it was tough, so there was a fairly solid reason to look into a new system. 

Trek is really not in that position. 

The Super-Shelves
Superhero games are in a similar place. I have around 3 different systems each for DC and Marvel alone. Throw in multiple editions of Champions and M&M, old school classics like V&V, new school options like ICONS, Bash, and Supers, plus GURPS, various FATE kits, and Apocalypse World Engine books, well, there are a ton of ways to put on a cape. This is a fairly niche type of game even within the niche of RPG games! D&D type games are the same way, and even general sci-fi games are all over the place these days. 

I'd say there are at least 3 ways to play any genre of RPG you want. How many ways do you need?

That said I am not declaring an embargo on RPG's here. I like to see what's new. I like to see if someone has come up with something truly original. Evan a new spin on a well-known approach can be interesting. I just can't do the "freeze" and run the same game for 20 years. I've seen what that does - it turns you into the guy on the Facebook group that doesn't understand why anyone would play anything but class and level fantasy games.  Or, conversely, the guy who can't understand why anyone would ever play one of those. I have no interest in joining that crowd. So the new RPG's will continue to wander through the front door.

Friday, December 2, 2016

40K Friday: High and Low

I see a picture like the one above and say "YES! Finally an up to date codex for the Chaos Marines!" After 4+ years of being behind everyone, watching as many of them get TWO updates, we should get something decent.

Then I see this:

Sources tell BoLS:
-8th Edition starter is Astartes vs Chaos Marines.
-Rulebook will be similar to Age of Sigmar’s General’s Handbook.
-Look for Campaign Books similar to the Realmgate Wars series.
-Point costs and rules for Army construction will be in the “General’s Handbook” and future codex-like Books
-Release date for 8th Edition is June
-The new Edition will be set after Abaddons’s 13th Black Crusade
-Initial focus on factions will be on Imperium vs. Chaos
-There are brewing disagreement between the returning Primarchs
-Many are shocked and disagree the 40th Millennia Imperium’s religion and injustice.

Now the previous rumors were heavy on what the rule set would be like:
GW is borrowing some rules mechanics form Age of Sigmar to pull over into the new edition.
Look for an emphasis on ease of play, especially for new players.
Look for the variable-stats-based-on-damage rule mechanic seen on some Age of Sigmar monsters to make it’s way into the Grimdark.
Look for Psychics to be greatly simplified.
Army construction will not be constrained.
Some version of AoS Warscrolls will make their way into the game.
The game will retain it’s gameplay and tactical depth, and not come anywhere near AoS’s tiny 4 pages of rules.
GW’s design goal is to maintain 40K’s depth of tactics and play, while speeding up playtime and removing needless detail.

It makes me wonder if it will even matter in 6-7 months. A radical new edition (like we saw with 3rd) would demand an entirely new book anyway.

Ah well. We will see.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Superhero Settings and Me

I've been digging through the superhero RPG shelves quite a bit the last couple of weeks and I spent some time thinking about settings - specifically campaign settings for superhero games.

In the ancient times of the early 80's there was Champions. Lots of Champions - and occasional episodes of Villains and Vigilantes. We didn't really have a specified setting - we just ran some games and assumed everybody's characters were available and local to "super city USA". There were suggestions in various books about setting it in your home town but I never cared for that idea. Partly because it seems limiting to me to set it in a real world city as-is. Partly because DFW isn't on a coast so you lose all of those ocean hooks from sinking ships to invasions from Atlantis to random sea monster attacks. Champions had an implied setting with organizations like VIPER and various heroes and villains but never went into detail on cities and nations.  We treated it kind of like we treated most of our D&D games - assumed/implied setting without getting too detailed on the larger picture.

Mid 80's we got a Marvel game and a DC game. We played them in-universe. Why wouldn't you?

In the 90's Champions finally put out a dedicated setting book with "Champions Universe". It was kind of cool but it was also a jumbled conglomeration of notes about characters, organizations, and world information that was way more than any of us were looking for at the time. I also wonder how much of it came from someone's campaign as opposed to being written up specifically for this book. I never worried about ti too much as anything other than a back up reference in case I needed to throw in a random organization for something.

My Champions games in the 90's ended up set in what I called "Miami 2000". It's a little dated now, but I love Florida as a superhero setting: Ocean access, home of the space program, the Everglades, the occasional hurricane threat, plus proximity to Communist Cuba, the historical pirate waters of the Caribbean, and the Bermuda Triangle. This is all great stuff for running a superhero campaign and it's all built right in. I have lived in Florida multiple times and also watched a lot of Miami Vice, so it was easy for me to envision the whole thing in my head. It represented a softening of my attitude towards real-world cities but only to a degree as my version of Miami roughly ten years in the then-future was altered in many ways. I started with a simple fold-up map of the city circa 1990 and had so many notes and changes by the end I'm not sure anyone could have deciphered it but me. A lot of it never saw table-time as I didn't run nearly as much as I had hoped but it was there, waiting. I still have most of the notes but I lost the main map somewhere along the way. I'm sure at some point Miami will return in one of my games - it's too good to ignore.

The biggest change of the 2000's has been my own personal drift from Champions to Mutants and Masterminds as my supers game of choice. M&M comes with Freedom City as its own setting and it's a great one. A nod to all kinds of comics, particularly the silver age, it's the reason M&M exists as Steve Kenson actually wrote it first for a different game. When that game folded part of the deal to publish the setting was to come up with a new system for superhero play - a d20 game.  As much as I like Freedom City and M&M I have probably run fewer than 25 sessions of the game. Most of those were scattered one-offs with the occasional two-parter or three-session run here and there. So we've never really spent time digging in to the setting, making it our own. I'm hoping that will change soon.

The second biggest emergence of the last ten years for me is ICONS. Lighter than M&M it's a great game, a nod to Marvel Super Heroes, and it's amazingly playable. For a more casual style of play it's just the best thing I have found. There are a ton of PDF adventures out there for it along with hero and villain supplements if you want them. Spurred by the revelation that was this game I started coming up with a new setting for my own games and ended up with "Atomic City". It's somewhat detailed in some areas and very loose in others, mainly because it's developing as we play rather than via me writing up 1000 pages of history. Sketch out the big picture, worry about the details when they come up. I went west coast instead of east this time but it's still a coastal American city with a growing population of super-types. I was happy enough with it that I've used it for some  M&M games too.

Finally we also had a new round of Marvel and DC games. I've written quite a bit about the Marvel Heroic game here and it ended up being a third style of game (with Champs and M&M being more detailed and ICONS being more fast and loose), one that I liked way more than I expected. Of course we've played it in the Marvel Universe and enjoyed it every single time. DC was the initial release of M&M third edition and I didn't really care about playing it as "DC" until last year when Apprentice Red asked about doing that. I still wanted room to do our own thing within that universe so I used Emerald City, the M&M 3E west coast counterpart to Freedom City, with some tweaks to add it to the DC universe. After all, it's not like the "X City" naming convention is unknown in DC anyway. This turned out to be easier than I thought and I was pretty happy with it during our brief run.

Emerald City makes even more DC sense now since there is a set of adventures for M&M tied to EC that begin with a "precipitating event"  which grants a bunch of people superpowers. It looks a lot like the beginning of the CW's The Flash with the particle accelerator explosion and plays into a nice campaign from there. I plan to emphasize this even more the next time we play.

So M&M and ICONS have taken over as our main games and I have tied them to particular settings. Marvel and DC are occasional side trips and I expect to continue with their own built-in settings whenever they come up. I still like Champions and I do want to give it a chance with my current group of friends and Apprentices but it will probably be sometime next year. I'm not sure what I would do there - go with Millenium City from 5th edition and the MMO? Resurrect Miami 2000? Roll it in to Atomic City since I use a lot of Champions villains there anyway? Not sure - we will cross that bridge when we get there.

The dream setup: A regular M&M campaign with a group based in Freedom City, another group running in Emerald City, and an occasional Cosmic game with members of both groups taking part. Additionally a M&M game running in Atomic City in its own universe with its own mix of players and the occasional crossover with the Freedomverse campaign. ICONS would still be "The Animated Series" for Atomic City run as one-off adventures when the option presented itself. Marvel and DC sprinkled in as completely separate games here and there. At some point: an ultimate finale crossover event where everyone picks their favorite character between all of the games, adjusted to make sure we have each one represented as a one-time, translated into one system, and run through a weekend-long epic adventure.

Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not, as I'm not sure how I would find the time to run all of these games often enough to call them a "campaign". Maybe of one of the Apprentices started up his own game ... Anyway there's the backstory and the dream. More to come - a lot more - the rest of this month.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Member City of Heroes?

Member 2012 when they shut it down for no great reason? Aluminum Man remembers ...

Four years ago today it all came to an end.

Still haven't found anything quite like it.

Someday ...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Meme-tastic Monday

Now that we're past Thanksgiving it's officially OK to put up those lights ...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

40K Thursday

Haven't posted much about 40K so I figured I would show my progress on the Eldar army so far this year. There's everything that's painted or started so far.

So there's 3 squads of Dire Avengers on the left - bases and fine-tuning of each squad is in progress. Next to them are the Fire Dragons and their favorite ride the Falcon grav tank.

The meat of the army: three squads of Wraithguard, a Wraithlord, a Spirit Seer, and a (primed) Wraithknight. That's my wraith host, the big thing I started last Chrtistmas break and the only two pieces left to finish are the Spiritseer (no problem) and the Wraithknight (well ...) so I'm hoping I can wrap them up by this Christmas break. The finished Scorpion squad is right there in the middle and a finished Ranger squad is on the right. The one painted Farseer has been my HQ in every battle so far this year and is often joined by the unpainted Farseer in there as well.

At the back are the work-in-progress guns and gunners of the Vaul's Wrath support battery. I'm debating whether to go ahead and finish them or to focus on the seer and the 'knight. There also an older metal Wraithlord (needs flock and a second gun) and some metal Wraithguard (just need flock) too. I wasn't going to use metal WG in this army but I keep coming across them already painted and sometimes it's a good deal so I may end up with a second Wraith Host down the road with minimal effort. Do I need one? No. It seems fitting for an Iyanden army though, and one day we might do another stupidly large game where I could use both at the same time.

Other elements: You can see the Swooping Hawks in baggies off to the right. I have two Wave Serpents primed but nothing more. I have three squads of Dark Reapers waiting on the shelf. That's really it. Most of the army will walk into battle but I'd like to get a 3rd serpent and use them for the Dire Avengers as their standard transports. The Scorpions usually start the game scouted or infiltrated up on the field. One squad of Wraithguard is often beamed into battle via webway portal with a Dark Eldar Archon. An Archon + warrior squad + raider is a small price to pay to be able to drop a squad of D-Weapons anywhere on the field with perfect precision. Beyond that one dirty trick it's a surprisingly mobile force as everything has Battle Focus so can shoot and move.

So far I am happy with it - it's formidable but not over the top like an all-scatbike army.  I'm hoping we can get in some more games soon, then I'll do an end of the year update with hopefully everything finished.