Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Beginning Year 10 of the Tower

I started writing here in 2009 as an outlet for my game related-thoughts and that's continued every year since. Last year was a terrible year and posting fell way down, but as I climb out of the hole I intend to keep the blog here as a part of my online life. I'm still running games, I'm still playing games,  so I should have some things worth sharing. I figure 2-3 posts a week will put me back where I'd like this to be so that's the goal for this year.

Currently I'm mainly running 5th Edition on a regular basis finishing up a retro-run of Keep on the Borderlands. We could have gone in several directions but this is what my players wanted to play! It actually started in 2017 then had a long dry spell and picked up again this year and has become the main game - we've even managed something approaching a regular every-two-weeks schedule! As we wrap this up we do have plans to move into the next chapter of the 5E retro tour ...

Besides D&D, in the last six months I've run sessions of ICONS (first run in years - yes!), the Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG (Starter kit - looking forward to the full game), and Labyrinth Lord (Barrowmaze - lots of fun).

For the future I'm hoping to keep the D&D game going and work in a once a month Supers game somehow too. We will see. I'm sure the plans will change - they always do!

I'm still playing in Paladin Steve's Kingmaker campaign. After 4 years we are 10th level with only one character death! It's still fun and all of the original players are still playing.

I'm also playing Variable Dave's new 50 Fathoms campaign! I say new - it started in November and has run consistently since then. I have to say it is a lot of fun finally playing Savage Worlds - not just running it.

Miniatures-wise I've pretty much let Age of Sigmar, Kings of War, Frostgrave, Bolt Action, X-Wing, Attack Wing, and Armada fall by the wayside. The focus is on 40K, both playing it and getting some of those armies perpetually "under construction" finished - at least to the point of having a painted, playable, 2000 point army. I'll post more about that on Friday. I do hope to work some of those other games back in to some kind of rotation throughout the year but for now it's all about the GrimDark Far Future.

Boardgames-wise I've played more Smash-Up this past year than anything else. It's a good game, especially with kids.

Online I take occasional dips into Star Trek Online but I'm mostly playing World of Warships. It scratches a historical itch and is a lot of fun to play, especially when I have a group of friends playing it too.

Anyway there's the state of things as the year begins. I'm looking forward to getting back into the blog and everything else that goes with it.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Greatest Hits #31 - Ye Olde Fumble Table

In honor of the kind of year 2018 has been for me, this is the most appropriate way to end the year:

In the interest of contributing something at least semi-useful to other people I present Ye Olde Fumble Table.

This is something I put together back around 2001-2002 when I was running a 3rd Edition campaign every two weeks with 6-8 players and we thought the game just cried out for something to balance out the spectrum with the Critical Hit rule. I'm not as big on things like this now as it can slow down the game but we did have quite a bit of fun with it. If I end up running Pathfinder or a 3.5 game again at some point I might break it back out and expose a new generation to the joys of damaging oneself. I believe v1.2 was the final version after we discovered some results needed more clarity or to be simplified.  If anyone is interested I can probably turn this into a PDF and put it up on Dropbox or Google Docs in a more printable format than this.

Looking over it again for the first time in a while, this really would not e difficult to translate into 4th Edition - all those wonderful conditions could fill out a fumble table quite nicely. Hmmmm.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Greatest Hits #30 - Modern Marvels Session 3 - Enter Hercules!

The third session of one of my favorite campaigns ... and I'm sure we played a fourth that I never wrote up! I'll have to rectify that!

We had a chance to get a game together but not all of our Pathfinder crew was available so we settled on ... Marvel Heroic! I ran it as a continuation of our previous games which you can see here:

Yes, it has been a couple of years since we last played. I wasn't going to let that stop me - the boys are still interested, I have notes/recaps, and I'm making more of an effort to finish things I start 

With Paladin Steve joining the campaign he was going to need a character and I had one in mind as soon as the option to play Marvel came up - Hercules! He's brash, he's bold, he's unquestionably a good guy, and while his usual approach is to punch things he almost lives like he's playing in a big game - I knew my friend would have a good time playing him and that he would add a lot to the team. Steve took him on with no hesitation.

Apprentice Blaster continued with Black Panther while Apprentice Who continued with Colossus.

In a cut scene, Zeus summons Hercules then tells him that foolish mortals are monkeying around with the Serpent Crown again and it's time to intervene. "Go and get it before they hurt themselves or do something even more foolish" is the gist of the conversation. Herc is more than ready to help!

Emerging from a mystical gate hidden deep in a cave the prince of power isn't exactly sure where to go but the closest landmark to him is a large structure best described as an ice fortress. Closing in on it he notices two flamboyantly dressed men also approaching the place and decides to introduce himself as only the mighty Hercules can!

A brief but loud conversation (complete with backslaps and strong handshakes and promises of shared drinks later) ends up with Herc's new friends "Black Panther" and "Colossus" agreeing to investigate the ice fortress as they too seek the Serpent Crown.

Seeing no obvious entrance Hercules challenges Colossus to a contest - "Let us smash our way through this ice" - basically the first one to something interesting, like an interior room, wins.

This is one of the reasons I love Marvel Heroic's milestone system - it directly ties XP into character traits like this in a really fun way.

Swinging away, the two mighty-thewed heroes bash a tunnel into the ice and The Mighty Hercules is just mightier enough that he smashes into a large open cavern/room first! Black Panther follows at some distance, mostly trying to stay clear of flying ice chunks. Emerging from the tunnel, they see a large ice/stone room with a throne-like seat. A man sits upon the throne:

He has long, shaggy hair, an equally unkempt beard, a yellow costume, and a blue cape. When he shifts in the chair, they see an S upon his chest. They have no idea who this is. Warily, they approach.

"I do not know who you are or why you have disturbed my solitude but go now and you may leave in peace. I wish to remain alone, not to fight, but I will fight if I must."
  • Hercules is confused - he doesn't really understand brooding
  • Black Panther is interested but wants to know who this guy is before getting too involved
  • Colossus is concerned and breaks out the armchair psychology
Colossus only gets so far before the multiple mentions of the "terrible things I've done" starts to get in the way of further conversation. Befuddled, Peter pauses ...

...and Hercules takes over! Falling back on what he knows best Herc touts the virtues of wine and song and comradeship and beating badguys and good times and drink and winning in general. Faced with this unstoppable torrent of optimism, the stranger's "... almost godlike assurance that he’s guilty" is overwhelmed by Hercules Godlike Positivity!

He stands, brushed the hair out of his face, walks over to Herc, smiles, and puts a hand on his shoulder: "Perhaps you are right old friend. Perhaps I have forgotten how good life can truly be. Perhaps it is time I returned to the world. Thank you." With that, he flies straight up and out of the room into the sunlit sky.

Hercules is extremely pleased with himself. Panther still wants to know who that was. Colossus wants to know what he meant by "old friend". Still pondering, they head for the large skull-shaped mountain in the distance, certain that their goal lies there.

At the foot of the mountain they find a village - a primitive village. As the heroes approach, a group of inhabitants gather. Many have obvious mutations. A four-armed giant of a man moves to the fore and points back the way the party came - "go".

Hercules asks for the ancient custom of hospitality. "Go".

Herc asks again. "Go".

Sensing trouble, Panther fades into the nearby foliage.

Annoyed, Hercules announces/lectures that it is customary for villagers to welcome travelers with food and drink. "Go".

As the last straw breaks, Herc punches the village champion. The mob gasps! Panther moves out of the bushes and into the village, leaping to the top of a hut.

Wrong heroes, but you get the idea
Then Colossus punches Hercules and a huge brawl erupts!

  • The big mutate drops, flattened in one punch by the mighty Hercules
  • The mob charges the mighty Hercules
  • Hercules grabs his jaw - "so that's it, eh?" and slugs Colossus back
  • A sniffing sound at the base of his hut causes Panther to leap into action against a particularly animal-like mutate
  • One mutate with an oddly shaped head tries to mess with the King of Wakanda's mind
Hercules versus Colossus quickly becomes Herc versus Colossus versus the mob as the two titans beat on each other without regard for the swarm of bodies around them. Colossus feels Hercules struck without provocation while Herc feels that the villager was rude and insulting and so the punch was completely justified. over the next few minutes they agree to disagree and to handle the mob together and they quickly bash the primitive brutes into submission.

Panther's leap from the rooftops dispatches his wolflike opponent in one move. Feeling himself under mental attack he picks out the mental mutate and the "Peerless Strategist" faces off with a "Super-Genius". It ends a minute later with Panther reversing a surprisingly strong attack and knocking out the mentalist.

As the heroes gather together Herc is hit by a psychic attack - it wasn't just the one mentalist! Seeing a woman peering from the door of a hut Herc throws a rock at her, cursing her interference! Panther joins in and throws a rock and insults her as well. Somewhat reluctantly, Colossus does the same thing and the woman runs out of the village, crying out in fear and shame.

The heroes pause to catch their breath.

Then Hercules punches Colossus, and the heroic contest resumes. Panther watches silently, arms folded, tapping his foot. Herc eventually wins using some Greco-Roman wrestling tricks Peter had never seen before. It ends with a handshake, much backslapping, and promises of drinks together.

The skull mountain awaits ...