Monday, 12 September 2016

Moving House & Recent Nerdity

Living in boxes
 So I have been absent for a while for which I must apologise, but not much nerdity has been happening.  You see, Sister Superior and I are moving house - to be exact, we're buying our first ever place and we have been going through the packing and paperwork associated with that.

The flat is a bit of a riot as a consequence and much of my wargaming and boardgaming stuff is in boxes - RPGs are next on the list.  Combine the fact that the spare room has stopped being "the nerd room" and started being "the place we keep boxes in" and I imagine you can see why not much has been getting played or painted in the Quailcave.

Damnit, Atmosfear is an awkward shape

"But why don't you do some gaming at someone else's house", you may ask?  Well, sir, that would be because if Sister Superior was busy trying to arrange home insurance or chuck out old clothes while I'm playing at spacemen then she would probably be... unimpressed.  Not to mention that clambering over the boxes of packed stuff to dig out Dreadnoughts and Hobgoblins would probably be considered unhelpful.

No, I'm afraid realistically not much Warhammer related stuff has happened in the last few weeks nor will it happen in the next week either - not at least until the final switcheroo happens mid October.  Until then I need to be productive and not shirk my duties in front of Sister Superior.

That's me, that is.
 It'll be worth it in the long run, of course.  As well as owning the property we will also have slightly more room.  It's three bedrooms rather than two, which means the nerd room can be a dedicated nerd room while the third bedroom can be a study or possibly even a glam room for my better half.  There's a garden shared with only one other house, a big change from the six to sixteen families I've had to share outdoor space with for the last decade.

But best of all, there's a loft and a shed.  A real garden shed, ideal for spray painting!  Loft space ideal for terrain storage!  Truly this is a nerd dream and continues my transformation into the dad from Friday Night Dinner.

Martin Goodman was the first time I empathised with a father, not a son, in a TV show.
 Anyway, I do have some stuff you haven't been told about.  I haven't spoken about the last few games of Anachronista 40,000...
Killerating things on this rather pretty urban terrain

...nor have I spoken about my thoughts on Chaos Space Marines finally getting a new rule book....

Well, I say "new".... but that's a comment for another time!
...but instead let's focus on where I've been more productive of the last few weeks, which is roleplaying.  What have my Thursday night crew been doing in our imaginary lands?


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Fandexes & House Rules: Playing Wargames With "Unofficial" Rules

It is a truth universally acknowledged that inside almost every player of games is an aspiring designer of games.

It's a rare gaming group which does not include people who produce their own house rules, even if they're fairly minor - "the player who won the last game goes first this time" or "players can discard their hand once at the start of the game and redraw".  Hell, some people don't even realise they're playing house rules - you can have a good laugh asking people what the rules to Monopoly are.

Roleplaying games are particularly rich territory for this.  As long as there's been forums for nerds to communicate they've swapped their custom classes, monsters, traps and spells.  Dragon Magazine and the fan press of D&D's early era survived on fan submissions of their house rules; the 90s internet saw Usenet users swap ideas and consolidate them into text file "netbooks"; the 2010s and the growth of ebooks sales saw people commit their personal creations to free, cheap or "pay what you want" PDFs and EPUBs.

I'm sure you guys and girls can solve these two riddles without breaking a sweat.

With roleplaying this is fairly easy because there's something of a hierarchy in rules creation/amendment.  If as a dungeon master I decide I want to use Elements of Magic-spellcasting or Time Wights in my D&D campaign, then I don't really have to answer to anyone - I just start to include it. (And in the latter case I did, albeit changing them from time travel to alternate universe beasties and calling them Crisis Wights.)

Sure, I would probably still talk through any amendments I made to Mutants and Masterminds with my group but if I decide to be a dictator and amend the grappling rules off my own back then the players are likely to shrug and accept that's my prerogative as a referee.  A full-on player revolt is unlikely unless I'm doing something really weird, like "replacing dice with a KerPlunk based mechanic".

Probably still a better ruleser than Old World of Darkness though.

Wargames, however, are a bit trickier and Games Workshop wargames more so....

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Justice League Beyond - A Peak Behind The Source Wall

Not pictured: a six-armed Indian battlesuit, a spirit of nature and a time travelling French performance artist.
 The latest RPG campaign I've been running has been a block of Justice League Beyond using the DC Adventures / Mutants and Masterminds rules.  Regular readers will know, and comic fans can maybe guess, the theme of this game - a near-future world in which the Justice League have reformed after an absence of some years and the next generation of superheroes have taken up the mantles of the previous generation.

We're 10 weeks into this game with just our final three part finale to follow - albeit with a week's pause because a group visit to the cinema to see Ghostbusters is happening this Thursday instead of dice-rolling.

Fuck the haters, I'm giving this a go.  (Though I'm a little nervous at the way the african-american lady is portrayed in the trailers, which feels a bit more cliche-riffic compared to Winston.)

Ghostbusters is, as has been commented before, an RPG tradition around here and I'm at least partly going to nick some ideas for new ghost-busting equipment and to see if it inspires my ever-mooted present day adventure for my usually late 80s/early 90s set game, "Whatever Happened To The Glasgow Ghostbusters".

I thought it might be interesting to share some of my notes with you.  I made a sort of season plan in advance marking out what different stories I was going to do and what NPCs/locations/etc were going to feature.  By comparing these notes to the reality, we can see quite how a GMs plans can vary in the months, weeks or even days between having them and acting on them.

The magic is ruined!

There may be some very mild spoilers for my players in this article but I would have to say that it's unlikely to be anything they haven't worked out for themselves - I mean, the fact that our season finale was going to involve Arkham Asylum in some capacity isn't a spoiler so much as something I've been trying to hint towards for some time!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Anachronista 40,000: Campaign Turn 3

Bad guys always have the best costumes
I haven't given you a campaign update in a bit.  The mentalness of British politics has distracted me - it seems we can't go five minutes without someone resigning from a major political institution and we're at the stage where transferring all my money into Warhammer figures might actually be the better option than keeping it as pounds sterling.

Racist attacks, economy crumbling, a female Prime Minister and Dangermouse back on telly.  Truly, the late 70s/early 80s are back in fashion.  Have I already missed a punk resurgence and if so do I have to hold out now for the Spandauu Ballet/Adam And The Ants equivalent?

I saw Debbie Harry in Glasgow a couple of years ago. 

...Still would.

Anyway, then, let's recap - our Warhammer campaign is an Imperial Vs Chaos affair and when you last read I had finally netted myself a victory in an two player versus two player game.  While the Imperials still felt the stronger force, their failure at Marpullium was a good day for me.

The campaign map at the start of turn 3.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Keep Calm And Blog On: A Painting Update For Chaos Dwarfs & Chaos Space Marines

Well it's all gone a wee bit weird, hasn't it?

My home country of the United Kingdom has had a rather big and rather surprising referendum result and as a politics nerd I've been following it, to the detriment of this blog which has had a few part-written articles on the to do list for a while.  Instead I woke up Friday 3am for the electoral count and fallout, continuing to hit Refresh on BBC news on an hourly basis ever since.

I could write paragraph upon paragraph about this turn of events, but it's not even vaguely what this blog is about.  This is a place about daemons, dwarfs, dragons, superheroes, holodecks, psychics and dice.  Real world issues stay off and do not interrupt.

Also, I think it would do me good to not think about it for the next wee bit! 

At least the Americans are seeing the bright side.
So let's catch up on what I've been up on the painting front instead and not even use the words Brexit, Farage, Eurozone, Constitution, Crisis, Denmark, Romanians, Neo-Fascist or Civil War.

Wait, that's two words.

Ach, you know what I mean.

A lot of drybrushing, the reverse of the usual "progressively lighter shades"

So you may remember I painted some Chaos Dwarf golems a wee bit ago.  You know, big lava looking monsters?  Neon orange with darker and darker shades over them?

"I could tell her they were gifts.  Yes, gifts from a friend in Edinburgh she's never met."
 You may also remember I got some more golems when I was in Edinburgh in April, as part of the alleged "weekend away for my anniversary with Sister Superior".  You know, when I got load of geeky things?  I told Sister Superior it was mostly a bargain and she didn't question it too hard?

Yeah, so if I'm going to get yet more unpainted bits of plastic I really need to paint them to justify the spend.  And paint them I did, with three more golems ready to roll giving me a unit of six silicate hard-men!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Knightfall: Chaos Knight Titan Progress, Good & Bad

Only part painted but still making it's debut.
In my last 40K campaign update you will have seen the part-painted Knight Titan, albeit only from the back, making it's debut on the table. 

However, I haven't really told you how it's coming along - last I mentioned it, I had assembled it but hadn't even undercoated it let alone done any sort "real" painting.
In the to-do pile for quite some time.

Way back in January 2015 I got the Knight Titan for my birthday, a figure I was very much looking forward to turning into an avatar of darkness.  Real life got in the way and it's been stuck in limbo for a long time, but I finally managed to break that in the last couple of weeks and get some paint on it.

First an undercoat of white went on the model, then some Tamiya pink spray.  Although I'd be painting over the pink, I figured that getting about the right colour on before that would help sell the colour.  The hue, along with some evil alterations, were going to be the main clue to my opponents that this was a force of darkness in front of them.

 So, click on for some pictures!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Anachronista 40,000: Campaign Turn 2

When the metal is hot, and the engine is hungry...

Turn two of six of our Warhammer campaign is over.  This was a turn that only saw two games played, both of which I was involved in, but it also saw two firsts for me.

Well, three if you count "meeting Charles' new dog Rogue" as a first.  In which case it's three

Or four if you count "getting my shoelaces eaten by an animal" as a first.

In the case of my first game, it was with Charles and marked the first time I'd ever played with the Forge World Horus Heresy rules for playing in the grim darkness of the 31st millennium.  I'd built my Chaos Space Marines army to be capable of multi-tasking as a Horus Heresy army but I'd never actually given it a go - however, Charles had similarly built his White Scars to be dual-use.  Why not play out our battle with the Legion rules instead?

My army prepares for an unlikely assault.

Still looking after a weeks-old puppy, Charles was unable to leave his house so we played at his.  We considered the current plot in our campaign and drummed up an appropriate scenario - a sort of lightning raid attack, in which both sides wanted to end the game with units in the defender's deployment zone.  This would encourage the attacker to head forward and the defender to hold position.

We had assumed that the White Scars, being both dominant on the planet and traditionally a hit and run force, would be the attacker but the dice suggested that instead Charles would be defending.  Therefore my somewhat slow, stand-and-shoot army would instead need to be repurposed into a blitzkreig on enemy turf while Charles' bikes would have to pull sentry duty.

The White Scars protect a very nice pasta dish made by Charles and his good lady.

Charles set up terrain, using some of his fantasy bits and bobs as well as sci-fi specific pieces.  The white bits of paper marked the weird and wonderful results of our dice rolls for mysterious terrain with certain forests and ruins dangerous, slower moving etc.

On my side was Fulgrim the Primarch leading two infantry units, a standard issue Bolter squad and a "Kakophoni" sonic weapon unit - yes, even in Horus Heresy I take the Noise Marine option.  Supporting them was a Contemptor Dreadnought, three bikers, a heavy weapon team, two Rhinos, a Vindicator and a Land Raider.

The forces opposite were twenty Bolter marines in one huge squad, two squads of bikes of which one was lead by the army leader, a Land raider carrying a terminator squad bristling with lightning claws, some air support and a very pretty Sicarin Venator tank. Charles kept about half of it in reserve: only the two bikes squads and the Sicarin started on the table, everything else was going to have to come on later.

So how did that go?  And what was the other first for me?  Lots of picture follow!