And another couple kickstarters…

Brutal!  Too many….

First one I can’t vouch for as a game, but it LOOKS good.  (Remember Dungeon Degenerates? that was well worth the kickstarter price based on the art alone, and was a solid game to boot!).  DEUS LO VULT.  

this one is around 50$ shipped so it’s not a bankbreaker like the CMON ones…

The second one is a no brainer.  Steve Jackson got the license back for “The Fantasy Trip” after many years as an out of print microgame and started a kickstarter to bring it back into print.  30$.

Remember these in the hobby shops back in the day? This is it.

Kickstarters, Kickstarters

Four kickstarters of interest have just popped up.  These are pricey to back in some cases, and I certainly can’t back them all, but one or more may be worth your interest.

First up is one of those insta-backs that is bound to make a shytte-load of cash and be awesome:  Eclipse!   This has cool ships, cool trays and probably isn’t something absolutely needed if you have the base game, but you’re going to want it.  The full game with the expansion is a hefty 150$ though.  I remember getting a copy of the first printing when the game got really hot by luck of timing years back and it’s been balls to the wall Eclipse ever since.

Second is OVER THE EDGE, a new version of the classic ‘fucked up island’ RPG that I never had a chance to play or run. The design was very influential and I expect it will be even better (much like Feng Shui 2 is to Feng Shui).  This may not be everyone’s cup o tea, but the old game spawned the Greatest CCG card ever made.

Third is another Quartermaster Game yet this time about the Cold War.  I really liked Quatermaster 1918 and feel this one will be even better.

Last is DEAD MAY DIE: CMON’s take on the Agents VS Cthulhu thing.  This looks good but there are so many of these games… sooo many…

LotFP – Lay of Remy Pardue part two

Sprint 1619, Northern France. We last left our heroes in St. Omer, with one of Remy’s wives (Lucienne) and child (of another wife) they had named ‘Timmy’ casing a two story  inn where Remy was supposedly hiding out. (first part of the adventure is here).

PC’s
Aleric the Pious (cleric) – played by mouth
Fred Fucher (specialist) – played by maat
Titus Sphnchta (magic user) – played by maat the younger (the only character that speaks French in the group)

Out the first session
Jaques Van Dam (fighter) – played by steve
Richard Quigley (fighter) – played by john

Aleric, Fred and Titus made it to the inn along with the boy and Lucienne, while Jaques and Richard must have eaten something wrong earlier in the day and had to stop.  The three noticed immediately that there was a man in the doorway watching the street quite intently.  Frederic Fucher did some successful sneaking into the stables at the back of the inn and watched another man come out the back door bringing a shit bucket to the loo out back, then he staid there awhile.

Meanwhile, Titus charmed the man in the doorway and told him there was a package of money at the postal office across town and he needed to get it and bring it back to Remy, which he went off to do. Then he and Aleric snuck into the inn and heard some people playing lansquenet in an upstairs room. Along with the chatter over the cards, they overheard a conversation about some money coming in and the words: “that man is worth a lot of money.” The cleric and wizard, with the fighters lagging behind  decided to hide in the stables with Fred and discuss what to do next.

Luckily both of the fighters joined them in the stables after successful constitutionals, what with the door now unguarded and all. The decide to whack the guy in the loo, which they did, but very noisily with screaming and hacking and such. This alerted a man named Arsene who guarded the back door to the inn and would have let Hector, the man in the loo, back into the inn had he survived. Instead, he loaded his crossbow and waited. The group then barged through the front door and opened the door to the kitchen from the common room and quickly shut it, seeing Arsene there waiting by the rear door with a crossbow. Aresene, thinking it was a single man invading the inn, bowled into the common room from the kitchen and was noisily brought down by the fighters.

Knowing at this point surprise was not on their side, the group headed upstairs and posted watch on the outside back door  (Fred Fucher) and on the hallway/balcony on the second floor (Aleric).
“go through the front door to get the guy in the backdoor”

They busted into the room Remy and two of his men (Thibaud and Andriet) were waiting in, who had drawn weapons over their abandoned card game. Andriet threw a knife at them but missed, and the characters asked to parlay and Remy, trapped in a room with an unknown number of assailants outside,  decided to do so. They asked for the original map and explained that while it was rude of him to steal the possessions and money from the characters, it was a very bad mistake to steal the map that he had. After some cajoling, Remy produced the map and tossed it across the room, firing a pistol and leaping from the nearby window in the same moment– the pistol missed, but the ground didn’t, and Remy was knocked out by the fall, unlucky for him. Andriet, being a violent sort, attacked with knives, but got covered in lantern oil and then had his skull split with an axe. Thibaud decided to run, and climbed up a ladder into a loft above the room. After making sure Remy was taken care of, the fighters went up the loft and there was more parlaying with Thibaud who was just a hireling. He left them his sword and money and they let him run off into the streets of St. Omer. They noticed a well-appointed chest in the loft after he left. Could this be where Remy hid all of their stuff? Fred Fucher then opened the accidentally stolen map and noted that it was part of Africa, and Matt told the players (not the characters) that he knew what that was all about..

Meanwhile the fighters up stairs opened the well appointed chest and it did not contain anything that they had expected. A tendril of black ooze or something shot out of it into Jacques Van Dam’s mouth and pushed it’s way down his throat. As he gagged on the black mass, Richard began hacking at it with his axe, and after several blows, severed the tendril and it retracted into the chest, which snapped shut. Jacques flailed on the floor as the mass dissipated down his throat and into his stomach and bowels.

Arc System works creating Kill la Kill arena Fighter!

“Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world. And you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!

ITEM! Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, DBZ, Blazblue) has released a teaser trailer for their new game, which is Kill la Kill!

If you have never seen t he show, it is about… an orphan girl who goes to a new school to find information on her father’s murderer. She carries around a very large half-scissor and gets into a lot of fights. The show is what I would call a HYPER Japanese anime, with shockingly fast pacing, tons of barely comprehensible cultural references and quite a bit of near-nudity. Closest I can describe it is a modern version of Those Obnoxious Aliens. If you want a short single-episode intro to the series, I HIGHLY recommend Episode 4: “Dawn of a Miserable Morning” which is both totally insane and more of a ‘single serving’ story that only has a bit to do with the overall plot of the show (which is also insane).

Anyway, this is something to watch! Arc System Works has made many of the best 2D fighters ever, and this should not disappoint.

DCC – Funnel with scratch off 0-level character sheets

Last weekend I finished running a funnel with the DCC scratch off character sheets. This will be a bit of a review of the sheets and a bit of a review of the new, brutal, way you can handle characters in the funnel if you have these sheets.

First, the sheets are aesthetically pleasing, but they are not made with the best scratch off stuff. I don’t play the lottery or any of that parasitic shit, but I’ve scratched off some stuff in my time and it was better than the sheets– the stuff was challenging to get off without scratching the crap out of the paper underneath.

Secondly, the size of the type in the scratch off areas made it difficult to read the text, especially for the lucky signs and some of the equipment.

Last, I think these should have been a quad of four character sheets and not just one. There is a lot of space on the sheet wasted and frankly 0-level characters aren’t worth a full sheet of paper in the first place!

We followed the suggestion that came with the pack of ’emergent’ stats, that is: when you have to use a stat on a character, you scratch it off the sheet and reveal it. Only when you use a stat do you get to see what it is and what the bonuses are.

While this was fun, a couple of the players felt like they were bit upside the ass by it when their front character turned out to have a 16+ in some stat and they didn’t know and doomed the poor fellow to some trap.  Make sure if you do this that you have ample opportunity for tests (PER especially doesn’t come up often).

That said, my funnel turned out not to be a very dangerous one, and with careful play (in most instances), the players came out with multiple characters.

Overall, it was fun to use the scratch off sheets, but they could be better and there were some complaints about reading the entries at times.

The Solo movie

When it was announced, to me the Solo movie marked the beginning of the Disney “Star Wars Spam” of films that will never stop coming out until people stop going to them (never).   I vowed I wouldn’t go see the movie the first night it came out (which I’ve done with every star wars film except the very first one) but fate intervened and Maat accidentally got tickets for opening night forgetting he was going to be out of town. I went.

So, we knew there would be SWS (star wars spam) as soon as Disney bought it off Lucas, but we didn’t know was that there would be SJW *and* SWS, and the combination of these things brought the most terrible star wars film since Attack of the Clones, which was horribly cynical to boot.  Add to this that we now know that there was no and is no overall meta plot for the non-prequel Star Wars films; i.e.: each director /writer can come up with his/her own plot with the characters that is totally independent from the plot that came before.   Since this tanked The Last Jedi, and left the next Director with a fucked set up that would make the writers of the Kamandi Challenge titter with glee, I see NO HOPE for the mainline post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars films.  The potential for the characters was fully ruined by The Last Jedi, and I think it will eventually become non-canon.

…. yet I think the Solo “series” will save the Star Wars brand from total obliteration, for a time at least.  That is a long way of saying I liked the film for the most part and found it entertaining enough to want to watch again.  There were a few characters that could have been better (the ‘revolution’ robot was needless comic relief and Lando was a bit too predictable) but overall, a well done space noir western.

I want to put the cover of this issue here because this was one of the comic books that I had as a kid that expanded the Star Wars universe, especially the rogues, thugs, thieves and pirates.  You have the old ass Jedi, the Rabbit guy, the Quill guy, and the dangerous madame.  When I went into the new Solo film, I felt like: Hey, if this movie makes me feel close to what I felt as a kid reading these comics tangentially about the characters and Star Wars universe, that would be great.  Not everything can be about the empire and the jedi and the rebellion right? Well– sort of.  Solo had a divergent plot that incidentally gave evidence for the early maneuvers of the nascent Empire, and held all that stuff at arm’s length for most of the film and expands quite a bit into interesting territory, until the end.  The end, as my brother said, shrinks the Star Wars universe back down to being just about the Jedi, just about the Rebellion and just about the Empire.

This is the closest to Ice Pirates we will get in the Star Wars series, especially with Ron Howard involved.  Is it better than Ice pirates? Nope, but it’s still good.

Go watch it! Then go watch some really good non-Space Western sci fi stuff!

Books of 2018

I read a bunch of stuff in 2018 so far.  Some of these you should read, some maybe not.

I started off the year LIGHT because I had just finished a heavy history of the early American Colonies that took months for me to get through (The Barbarous Years).  Heavy history is the real deal compared to the pop stuff most people read that I also, shamefully, like, but if you’re not in a scholarly mood, they can be rough.

The first book of the year was a Dashiell Hammett that I hadn’t gotten to yet: RED HARVEST (not the bullshit starwars novel).  Cool name?  Well that’s what the fuck it is.  The first half is excellent and then about the middle end, when one of the main characters gets knocked off, it feels a bit rushed to me, like Hammet didn’t want to revel in the final carnage and high body count (or felt it would be unrealistic for his protagonist to survive if shit got too crazy).  Overall a strong book in the genre and a fun read.  Recommended.

this is the worst cover of any of the printings…

Second, I stayed the course on the Pulp Crime but got into heavier, more nihilistic stuff with Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280.  This is a classic untrustworthy narrator style book with a self-proclaimed idiot Sheriff of a small town who turns out to be quite different than he tries to lead the reader to believe.  This is one of Jim Thompson’s best.  Highly Recommended.

Since I borrowed it from a dude at work, I was obliged to read Guns, Germs and Steel next.  This is on the poppy side of history books but the author’s experience and angle through the narrative is unique, though I think the full extent of it would take many volumes.  What he sets out to answer to his Polynesian friend is why the white folks have all the good “cargo” and he does so by showing that development of different foods, domestication of certain animals lead to people in Northern Europe to become the dominant group (until they ended their dominance via WW1 and WW2, like all groups do, by annihilating themselves in internal conflicts— just like the Mongols and Romans did). While “guns” is in the title, it’s really about FOOD, DOMESTICATION and GERMS– but that ain’t a sexy title.  I disagree with his assessment that leader’s decisions do not truly influence the course of history of humanity.  Caesar and at least three of the Mongol conquerors changed things beyond recognition, yet he may argue in turn that they were playing with the same set of germs and steel where Polynesia and the Native Americans were not.  Recommended.

After this, I planned to read Twain due to promptings from Maat, but I realized I had not read the entire Border Trilogy yet and plowed through All the Pretty Horses in about a week, and then started on the beastly The Crossing, which is a much longer work.   All the Pretty is an excellent read and not too heavy, much like No Country for Old Men (a Jim Thompson novel if I ever saw one!) and The Road.   The main character, while incredibly capable at everything he does, is still believable and the mess he gets in with his friend Lacey is as interesting as it is horrifying.  This book was hugely influential on a lot of SCHLOCK films and books that got way more attention (Horse Whisperer, Brokeback mountain which shamefully steals lines of dialog DIRECTLY from All the Pretty Horses). Leave those aside and experience the real deal instead.  Don’t watch the movie.

The Crossing is more along the lines of Suttree (which is on par with Blood Meridian) but it doesn’t seem so at first, and I think the first 120 pages or so are astounding (the wolf part).  After the first act of the book, you realize that this is going to be a picaresque and not as tight as All the Pretty Horses story wise.  The book reminds me most of Stuart Little, except with a lot more violence and overt philosophy.   While All the Pretty deals with an amazingly talented cowboy, the Crossing deals with a much less ubermench as the main character, Billy, in fact you could say he’s not all that great at what he does, so is more relatable to the reader (like Suttree).  He gets in bad troubles after some really bad things happen to his family and his brother and then there’s a nuke (yes a nuke), but Billy is more of an observer than actor (like Suttree). In fact, his brother seems to have a much more exciting and book worthy existence than Billy does, and I think that’s one of the lessons of the novel.  While All the Pretty Horses is the most popular of these, some people really love this book out of the trilogy.  The beginning is so sad, I had to put it down for awhile, and then it gets worse.

Cities of the Plain is the sad ending to the Border Trilogy as it closes out the cowboy (and even rural) era of the United States in the wake of the Second World War and the rise of the Military Industrial Complex.  The book involves characters from both of the previous works and is a pretty rough ride at times.  The core plot revolves around the All the Pretty Horses guy and things go terribly wrong for everyone and the story ends in 2002, so the whole Trilogy goes from 1940 to then.  The best part of the book for me is when the cowboys go hunting for a pack of dogs that have been killing calf on the range, you want to find out how people should write stuff, look at that part.  This is a sad book as the end of the characters is also the end of a way of life.  What happened to Lacey?

I recommend these highly, and if one has never read McCarthy, probably start with All the Pretty Horses or Suttree.  I will need to read The Crossing and Cities of the Plain again to really assess how these fit into his whole body of work.  Obviously these books are an absolutely surreal experience and the prose is unmatched and not to be taken lightly.  I read these on the bus and would get to very important parts when people were talking or playing their shitty songs on their shitty phone speakers.

So next is Twain, lots and lots of Twain (then probably Blood Meridian or Suttree again, YAY!).

Info on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition

I’m keen on the new Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay developed by Cubicle 7, having played 1st extensively and 2nd edition a few sessions.  In my middle years, I see many, many flaws in both 1st and 2nd’s system, but the game had some high quality short adventures and, of course, the Enemy Within Campaign which I never got to run players through because they— became like chaos itself, spiked off into random directions mostly due to crimes, and I had to start giving them chaos attributes until we quit playing halfway through college.  Others had similar experiences.  It could be that the nihilism inherent in the late 80’s that seeped entire into the Warhammer world view made players inherently nihilistic as well, or maybe Slaanesh is just that attractive…

That brings me to 3rd edition WFRP and… my worry that any of the things in 3rd edition make it into 4th.  3rd was the prototype for the much refined Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight, yet it was a total mess and completely unmanageable at the table.  I played it once as a player and was astounded at the number of chits and cards and stuff, as well as how long it took to finish a small combat with beastmen.  In Mythras or D&D the fight would have taken 30 minutes of combat time, where 3rd WFRP took well over an hour.  Yet, 3rd edition had quite a few excellent adventures (Witches Song and the new Enemy Within for starters).

Here is a published list of features so far:

The d100 system used will be broadly familiar, but a new implementation designed to offer three ways of resolving actions:
1 – a decision based on the characters’ abilities

2 – a simple pass/fail test

3 – a more nuanced dramatic test giving a range of outcomes and success levels

  1. GMs are encouraged to tailor their use of these to suit their group’s preferences.
  2. The combat system has been designed to be quick, dynamic and exciting, with something happening as the result of every roll.
  3. Careers remain an important feature. Dom waxed eloquent about how careers help immerse characters in the world, and give them something to fight for. He also talked about how that was reinforced in the new edition by Ambitions – personal goals that characters work towards.
  4. You can initially play a Human, Dwarf, Halfling or Elf, and that range will grow through future expansions.
  5. Dom did also talk about our ambitious plans for expansions. An expeditionary approach to Lustria was mentioned, as was his excitement about Dark Elf politics and how he always wanted to go to Ulthuan.

Influence from 3rd aside, what I worry most about here is that WFRP 4e will be a ‘story game,’ leaning far towards something like FATE than anything my players and myself would ever want, but let’s see how this shakes out.   There is always the option of running WFRP with Mythras, which can’t be beat system wise.

Names for Maaaat

We play a bunch of RPG’s and Matt is castigated most of the time for his character names. So much so that he has descended into utter filth or silliness as a response. While I’m used to players naming their characters after other PLAYERS in the game, or some two word combo that turns out to be violent sexual imagery when pronounced, I seek to help matt with his naming problem and wasn’t sure how until I found this post about a neural network generating thousands of ‘fantasy’ names.

Here are some good ones out of the 10K+

Chagg Castlewink
Mira the Bastard
Ravelock Hewclot
Saltroth Dank
Varion Mandrin
Perry Bardwood
Mellock Fistbelly
Rhon Smallthorn
Maedo Balland
Poppy Didgins
Corvish Prinn
Temen Maft
Morrigan Hellioa Forgelock

LotFP – the Lay of Remy Pardue

While Rol20 13th Age is in hiatus, I decided to bust out a LotFP adventure I have been working on and we’ve pulled a handful of sessions off.

PC’s
Aleric the Pious (cleric) – played by mouth
Fred Fucher (specialist) – played by maat
Jaques Van Dam (fighter) – played by steve
Richard Quigley (fighter) – played by john
Titus Sphnchta (magic user) – played by maat the younger (the only character that speaks French in the group)

Spring 1619, London. The adventure begins with the two fighters and the cleric being hired to find a strange cube rumored to be at a monastery in southern France by a representative of the new Lord of Manchester who wishes to gift the thing to a friend. They are given a map in a water-tight tube to the monastery, ample supplies and petty cash to spend on the way as well as a ride to the continent via a river boat that can make the crossing captained by one Remy Pardue. They were warned not to go to Paris (as the country had just been in a small civil war between the Queen of France and the heir apparent).

The group met the boat captain and his crew on the Thames the next morning. All went swimmingly until the boat was moored at Ramsgate after a day coming down the Thames. The group stayed at an inn and the next morning the boat, Remy and his crew and the map, and all of their supplies and monies were gone. They punched out the barkeep (who told them Remy was a bit sketchy) until he told them to check another, seedier, inn on the wharf for news of Remy. Just then Titus and Fred Fucher arrived with a message from the Lord of Manchester (or rather, his man), that they were given the wrong map and to send the original map back post haste. Of course, they didn’t have the original map any more…

Checking the seedy Inn (the Dried Boar), they found one of his crew, Giles Jegou, who our of guilt, could not go along with the theft and became summarily drunk instead. He told the group that they might find Remy at his mother’s house west of Saint-Omer, otherwise he had no idea where he was off to.

With help from the bartender, they got passage across the channel that day and walked to Saint Omer from the coast, not quite penniless, but certainly not in style.

Saint Omer was having a market day and the town was crowded with merchants and shoppers, even early in the morning when they arrived. After some inquiry and paying of bridge tolls, they found the farm of the Pardue’s and approached. Two of the characters waited in a flowering apple orchard overlooking the main house and the other three went straight there. They found an old woman cracking nuts on the stoop, a young woman with long black hair hanging laundry on a line (mostly diapers) and another woman with long black hair carrying a swaddled baby. The old woman was Remy’s mother and she spoke the English, though with a rougher burr native to Bristol and such unsavory places. Somewhere in the house another baby was crying.

Titus told her they had something for Remy and were trying to find him. She told them the price to find him was the same whether giving or receiving. She brought out a gaggle of children of many ages from inside and around the house and that they must pick one to take with them as their ward, since the farm was poor and there were constantly new mouths to feed as Remy brought his impregnated wives to the house with or without other by-blows.

They selected the eldest boy (11) and she told them that they could name him as well if they wanted (they named him Timmy). Then she told them that Remy had been at the house just yesterday and had gone on about finding a crew quickly and he had an opportunity that would make him rich. She said he then went to Paris and they should not have trouble finding him on the way there if they hurry (!?).

The party left the farm with the child in tow and went north to the nearest livery stable to purchase some horses. They had very little money and asked the stable master if there was anything they could do to procure some horses. With the chaos in the country those days horses were not easy to come by, and he offered them a few horses if they burned one of his competitors stables down without hurting any of the animals. After some debate, they agreed and got directions.

On the road south, near again to the Pardue farm, they came upon one of the women from the house (Lucienne), one of Remy’s ‘wives’ who told them that the old hag was lying and if they took her with them, she would tell them where Remy really was and take them there. They again reluctantly agreed (“Should we still burn the stables down?”) and Lucienne took them into Saint Omer in front of the Hotel D’Ville, a three story Inn with a brewery and stables.