Wednesday, 18 January 2017

One Score And Thirteen Years Ago - A Bearded Quail Birthday With Bonus Video


When you're born on Friday 13th, all the bad luck stuff associated with it always feels kinda mean-spirited.
Those of you with a good memory may well realise we've passed an important milestone in the Bearded Quail's calendar. The 13th of January is my birthday - this year like the year I was born it was a Friday.  (Unlike the year I was born, there wasn't a snowstorm causing blackouts.

With that I have become older and now scale the heady heights of 33 years old.  I do now own a house so I feel a bit more grown-up than last year, but I still spent a chunk of my birthday reading comics based on 1980s toylines and eating an R2-D2 cake so it kinda cancels out.

Basically every element of my birthday is associated with something negative.  Even though I have the same starsign as Jesus, which you'd think would count for something.
Inevitably my birthday means a few new nerdy odds and ends as gifts.  Some are more vaguely practical, like a whiteboard easel that just happens to be convenient for use while RPGing to track initiative or draw maps.  Some are nerdy but outside the scope of this blog, like the Bluray of Tron and Tron Legacy.

Some, however.... some fit right in.  And one even justifies the first ever Bearded Quail Vlog!  Oo-er, missus!


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Cadet Will Not Lie, Cheat Or Steal: Starfleet Academy Series 1 Conclusion

My only experience prior to this point of playing in Starfleet Academy.
 Last time I blogged in 2016 it was about Starfleet Academy – the Star Trek RPG I was running a sort of “spin-off” to my main Trek game.  The players were all taking the roll of teenage/twenty-something students who were trying to survive military university and graduate as a Starfleet officer.  They were mostly first year students (with a couple of “veterans”) and represented not the crème de la crème but the “just passing” sort of student.

This game has now concluded and the TL;DR is that the game seemed to go down well and the group agreed they would play it again in the future.  Everyone had their spotlight episode with some better than others – Ailsa and Dave had particularly good episodes I would say.  I think Molly would withdraw K’Ratak (possibly back to the main Star Trek game) and roll up a fresh new player – but everyone else I think would hang onto their character and continue their story, with some strong ideas for future episodes floating about.

Of course I’m not the kind of guy to leave it at a short description like that.  So details follow...

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Everyone Looks Smart And Wears A Tie - Christmas 2016





OK, so we have passed the Epiphany and thus Christmas is over.... but better late than never, right?

This blog has lain rather dormant for a while because Sister Superior and I have been continuing work on the new house.  Since I last wrote we have painted, floored and assembled furniture for the dining room/study.  Into this room and it’s many bookshelves have gone most of our novels, dictionaries, graphic novels, DVDs, computer games and CDs. 

Rather than assembling tanks I’ve been assembling IKEA furniture, which tends to be less fiddly than Warhammer figures and with fewer skulls.


Alas despite this progress the Nerd Room remains a Nerd Room only in potentia.  It’s next on the to do list – and no reflooring or DIY work is required bar a fresh lick of paint, so it should be quick going.  Once the nerd room is done not only can I finally unpack all my RPG and wargaming stuff but I’ll be able to finally get some more miniature painting done and thusly have something worth talking about on this blog.  For now, however, it remains home to many cardboard boxes and not much else


I could really use the Constructions about now.

The other reason why I haven’t posted much lately is that it has been Christmas, which inevitably means I have been stuffing my face and sleeping inbetween family shindigs.  In anticipation of the return to geeky normality, though, Hobby Santa even brought me a couple of treats… and it seemed to me the epiphany was as good a day as any to update you on these.


Monday, 24 October 2016

Ex Astris, Scientia (Despite The Boxes): Starfleet Academy, Season 1 Mid-Report

Welcome to my life
It's been a while since I posted, but then to be honest it's been a while since I did much fun.  It's chaos at thw Quailcave which has finally relocated from a flat in Glasgow a house in Glasgow.  I am now a home-owning nerd and one whose possession had to be placed in boxes.

You've seen my possessions, ladies and gentlemen.  Its a lot of boxes.

The new house is warm and dry with fully functional kitchen and bathroom.  Apart from that, however, it's a bombsite.  Redecorating has taken longer than expected and inevitably nerdity suffers because Sister Superior wouldn't be impressed if I put off painting the feature wall of the bedroom to go paint a Knight Titan's heraldry.

Though that feature wall paint will get some nerd use later on.  She says "feature wall", I say "Martian landscape"
In the long run it's gonna be worth it.  The new place is bigger and with an extra room taking over the dining room & study roles, the Nerd Room will be purely a lair for my silly projects.  A garden with shed offers a great place for spray-painting, casting and other more smelly/messy projects.  Sister Superior's parents have even offered us a larger dining table, meaning the existing one is about to become surplus to requirements and could easilly become a more permanent painting/play space.

For now this is all in potentia.  Right now I just live in chaos.

And not sexy chaos or cool chaos.  Just "where the hell are my Traveller notes" chaos

Still, after all the chaos we were glad to get some normality back so our RPG nights have resumed after a couple of week's hiatus.  That means I can now give a midway report on our current roleplaying game - a game set in Starfleet Academy during the same period as our other Star Trek game.

Four weeks into series 1.

Effectively this is the Deep Space Nine to our Next Generation - a spin-off show set in a static location that allows for a different style of story-telling than the traditional Enterprise hops from planet to planet every week" model.  Our game is set back on Earth, at the main Starfleet Academy campus and focuses on a single dorm inhabited by an odd-ball mixture of new and experienced cadets.

This was initially a bit of a tough sell to some of the group since it sounds like Dawson's Creek with lasers and nerds, bless them, don't usually get drawn into high school drama type proceedings.  Frankly, most nerds hate high school with a passion and treat it as a dark time where tyrants ruled which shall never be spoken of again - which is why my copy of Alma Mater remains unplayed.  To the typical nerd, it's about as enjoyable a prospect as a Schindler's List LARP.

...Apologies for the rather grim analogy there, but I suspect there's a few readers that are still sorta nodding along.

That said, Sister Superior was more into the idea because she has very fond memories of Saved By The Bell even if her own teen years sucked.  Furthermore the reason that an Academy setting appealed to me was the fallibility inherent in the premise - rather than being Picard, Spock, Dax or other super-skilled experienced characters these will be 17-22 year olds who aren't fully formed yet.  I'm sure we all have memories of things we or our friends did as younger people which seemed totally fine at the time but, on reflection, were majorly uncool - but sometimes we only learn by trying and failing and those shit moments of our past can be key parts of what make us people.

A Starfleet cadet game isn't going to be as grim as DS9's war arc - I don't think we'll be doing any Ben Sisko getting off scott-free with war crimes type stuff - but it does allow for players to mess up big-time because even in the utopia of the Federation, teenagers and students will be total idiots

This but with more aliens and less 90s fashion.
So, all the students are sharing dorms and will be somewhat flawed.  Who are these guys?

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?

 Well...


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!