Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fieldstone Phase One basecoated

I have all the pieces from Phase One of the fieldstone modular dungeon painted with the darkest basecoat.  The pieces will have three layers: a dark layer painted over the entire thing ("Cowboy Boots" from Valspar), a terracotta-colored main layer that shows the dark color in the crevices, and a bone-colored highlight layer.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Fieldstone Modular Dungeon

In the past, I have built a modular dungeon, which for those who don't know is a terrain collection used to depict a stereotypical dungeon layout for a fantasy roleplaying game.  I use pieces cast from Hirst Arts molds.  My previous one was primarily done with the Smooth Floor Tile and Wizard Wall molds, and was composed of small pieces that required a lot of assembling.  That almost took up too much time and stalled gameplay.

I decided that I would build another dungeon, one that was less flexible than the gothic modular one, but easier to set up during the game.  I also decided I would use a different mold series from Hirst Arts.  I went with the "fieldstone" series of molds, which are on oldie but a goodie when it comes to Hirst Arts.  The accessories are not as detailed or numerous as the gothic line, but look good and are easy to cast.

In planning the project, I went with phases of development, with the idea that I could expand the series in steps as I went along.  Throughout the back half of 2017 I slowly made progress on Phase 1.  As it stands currently, I have completed building the Phase 1 pieces.

Phase 1 includes

  • Two 20' by 20' rooms
  • Ten 20' long hallways
  • Six corner pieces
  • Four "T" shaped pieces
These will not be painted with three colors: a dark base layer, a medium main layer, and a light highlight layer.  I'll work on that step while casting the pieces for Phase 2.

Comments welcome!

Two weeks to build a campaign--GO!

The title pretty much says it all.

In my last post I was all "oh there's nothing going on and what am I going to blog about?"  Then one of the two people planning on running a game in my gaming group has decided to postpone his plans until later this year.  The other GM is running a game with a small, limited number of players, so the torch has been passed (back) to me to run something for my big, honking, inconsistent gaming group!

So the first session will be sometime in late January, which means I've got a few weeks to pull something together.  I'm pretty sure I'm ready to stop running Bash, because it is just not holding the group's attention.  Or rather, some people are into it, but many are not.

With the other game being Star Trek, I'm loathe to run science fiction, to avoid comparisons, although running a game featuring the decimated Resistance in Star Wars sounds like a lot of fun.  I've found that those games are hard to run with a large, inconsistent group, however.

As a result, I will likely run Dungeons & Dragons 5E.  It's a game everyone knows and owns.  It's been "done" insofar as we have gone from 1st to about 15th level previously, but I may do a different kind of story.  I also really want to use a project I've been working on but haven't talked about much here.  More on that next time...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 in review

Eighteen posts.  Which is, to date, the most sparse amount of production I've had since the blog began.  There were literally months (e.g. May, September) when I didn't post at all.

And I can not even claim I was busy on other blogs, since my companion blog to this one, The Army Collector, had virtually no posts to speak of.

The short reason I've mentioned before: I got divorced, moved twice, had my life turn upside-down six or seven times, etc.  I did, in fact, do some gaming in there.  Ran quite a few sessions of Bash, played in an old WEG Star Wars campaign, Baker Street, and LUG's Star Trek RPG.  But I tend to write less as a player than as a GM, because I'm uncomfortable speaking about other people's games lest I appear critical of my friends.

And really, they are all doing a very good job, with their own style of play.

So what happens in 2018?

I'm continuing to work on a large modular dungeon based on the Hirst Arts fieldstone line of molds.  I'm not sure that I'll end up using it, but it is a nice project I can do in fits and spurts as the time allows.  I should get some pics up soon.

I could run my own campaign again, especially for a my son, "Ammo Grot," whose blog-nickname might have to become Ork Boy because he's now an adult and going off to college in the fall.  He's been at my gaming table since he was eleven years old, and doing one more game before he heads out might be nice.

I could always get back into wargaming again.  I've got the new Warhammer 40K rules, the skirmish-based 40K rules, or a host of other options.  With two other RPG campaigns theoretically happening in Q1 2018, there might not be room for anything else.  A wargame I could play with Ork Boy might be a better option (and would mean posts on the other blog).

We'll see...  In the meantime, thanks for sticking around!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Not-so-super villains

The Red Hood's gang of re-furbished C-listers
The general consensus among my kids is that they want me to continue to run a superhero campaign, but are getting a little sick of the rules-light system Bash! (always with the exclamation point in the title).  So I'm considering re-tooling the campaign with new rules, if not resetting the entire story.  Because Bash! was supposed to be a "beer and pretzels" game to get me by until the next big thing, I hadn't bothered going too deep, plot-wise.

So right now, I'm thinking about the foundation for a new supers game, and what's on my mind is Brian Michael Bendis' run on The New Avengers and the several iterations that followed, up through the "Siege" storyline.  This isn't too surprising since it is Bendis' work that formed the core of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, which I ran for a long while.

Bendis began his arc with the "Breakout" event in which Electro is hired to bust Sauron out of the Marvel version of Supermax called the Raft, an island off the coast of New York City (because that's where you ought to keep all your supervillains).  Containing the subsequent chaos is what brings most of the heroes together who will form the core of the new Avengers roster: Captain America, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, etc.

But the Breakout event also established a group of supervillains who would become the core of the antagonists throughout his run, individuals who had successfully escaped.  Over the next many years, very few new villains would actually be introduced, but instead Bendis would rely on using and re-using the same characters.  Most of the time the villains would be under the command of a smarter, more powerful chief antagonist such as the Red Hood or Norman Osborn.  There were some heavy hitters like the Living Laser and Count Nefaria, some mid-tier threats like the Mandrill and the U-Foes, and some that barely qualified as mooks like Crossfire or Razor Fist.  Eventually the Red Hood would resurrect most of the downright D-listers that were casually killed by the Scourge at the "Bar with No Name" massacre.  You can find a complete list of the Red Hood's gang (and hence most of Bendis' roster) here.

Bendis had decades of material to sort through and pick out some pretty lackluster character concepts to overhaul.  But it did get me thinking about world-building for superhero RPG's.  One could get by with a pretty decent campaign with really only about a dozen low- to mid-tier villains, and two or three major archvillains.  Like in the case of the Bendis Avengers, the lower-level villains could show up with some regularity as henchmen for the arch-villains or as convenient in media res sub-plots for sessions.

So time to crank out a bunch of new villains, much like I did ages ago with the "25 Villains of Christmas."  Those 25 villains were the flesh and bone of the MHR campaign.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Boldly going where we maybe shouldn't

Good gravy, it's been forever since I made a blog post about gaming.

So, I'm currently playing in a Star Trek RPG using the Last Unicorn Games iteration (my friend Adam's favorite).  I'm not sure if the game has hit its stride yet, mostly because there are a whole slew of pitfalls, and we seem to be stumbling into a lot of them.

  • Complex narratives and sporadic attendance.  Sometimes OSR people have the right idea when it comes to dungeon crawling campaigns.  A complicated multi-session storyline is a bear to maintain when different people show up for each session.  I missed a big one and hadn't a clue what was going on the last time we played.
  • Psionics.  I seem to remember there being a TNG episode about the ethical murkiness of someone using a Betazed as an interrogator, but I could be wrong.  We have two Betazed PC's--mine and someone else's, and it is hard not to ask the GM if the NPC is lying or not every time we talk to someone.  I've yet to play an RPG where telepathy didn't ruin everything.
  • Superpseudoscience.  I will confess to this pitfall myself.  I nearly wrecked most of the plot by suggesting a ridiculous pseudoscience option.  We are trying to help negotiate a deal with a planetary authority to get dilithium for the Federation.  It wasn't going well, and I posed the question of whether a Galaxy-class starship could, using the ST:TNG-level technology, made the planet's supply of dilithium worthless.  The panicked look on the GM's face told me a lot.
In the meantime, I need to get serious about my own game, which mostly involves me picking something and making a commitment to it, which is always difficult for me.  I'm always looking for that perfect game that will suit me and my legion of players, be easy to learn but complex enough to keep intelligence people engaged, with just the right level of crunch and flexibility.  

Which is ridiculous, but it keeps me from making the decision between options like Dungeons & Dragons, Blood and Treasure, and Shadow of the Demon Lord, all of which offer essentially the same genre using different rules.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Not Even Pretending

First of all, I'd like to share a quick video about a guy who has been running D&D (or technically, AD&D First Edition, from the look of the rulebook) for 35 years straight.

For someone who has never run a single campaign longer than about two years, I have appreciate that level of commitment, and the collection that has sprung out of it.

I, on the other hand, have not posted in two months.  Mostly that's because I haven't been running anything, and more often than not tend to post gaming recaps these days of games that I am actually running, rather than playing.  But the games in which I have been playing haven't been running much either the last two months.  Baker Street, I fear, has succumbed to the weight of the number of players.  The last session was enjoyable, but only about half the players really engaged, at the raw number of players ensured that someone in the group had the maxed-out skill for whatever task was required.

The most recent session of Star Trek went very well in my opinion, but was also likely helped by the small number of players (three) all of whom had a lot of experience gaming.  But it also struggles from my gaming group's other big problem--inconsistent attendance.  If you limit the group to six players, you are likely to maybe get four any given date.

All of which I have talked about ad nauseum on this blog.  So I'm stopping.

So, my gaming stuff.  A while back I talked about the possibility of running an urban hex-crawl, an idea that was picked up and taken to new heights by Fr. Dave over at Blood of Prokopius.  But his addition added not only a level of complexity, but also exploded the size of the task.  To wit, if you do five locations (rolling a d6 with one option being "lost" to determine what random place the PC's encounter, and you have, say, 20 hexes, you now need 100 locations for your city.

Which is overwhelming, to say the least.

And completely stalled me out. I was already dithering on a rules set, and then my brain seized up as well.  Therefore I need to ratchet everything down a notch of two, because I'm losing time gaming with my son, who leaves for college next year.

I do so want to run one more game with him.  He's been playing in my group since he was 10 or 11, and I know he'll be doing his own thing once he leaves.  So I need to set aside the enemy of the good--perfect--and find some time to be with him.

Fieldstone Phase One basecoated