Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Month In Gaming: September

Well folks, one more month of great gaming under the belt and another one is under way. Here's what September looked like from where I sit.

Jewels of the Carnifex

The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad crew plowed through +Harley Stroh's Jewels of the Carnifex module in September. I think that this is only the second published module that the group has ever been through (the first being Brave Halfling's The Vile Worm. The crew lived in fear of this module and were certain that all of them would die. They went for overkill whenever possible, just to make sure that whatever they were facing, they had it under control. This overkill factor led to some really interesting situations like The-Hairy-Wizard-Formerly-Known-As-Ian (or "Formerly Ian" as we call him for short), after experiencing numerous counts of corruption, Spellburning down nearly all of his eligible Ability Scores. The group narrowly avoided death several times, fell victim to some of the more nefarious tricks in the dungeon (Denny Smed, +Wayne Snyder's veteran thief, is now 18 years older due to one trap, which prompted the question from Wayne "How old am I anyway?") and found themselves facing off against a horde of disturbing mutants led by an apparent demigod. I don't want to ruin the module for anyone, since it's definitely fun and brutal. Note to Judges: as you're reading this one through, bring your players along with you for the journey. Picture what they're going to want to do in each room and how they're probably going to fuck with things. If you want to get all the SPOILERS you can check out +Edgar Johnson's very excellent blog for the session recaps (HERE, HERE and HERE).

I really enjoyed running one of Harley's modules again (I ran Sailors on the Starless Sea for the Game of Taps crew last year and had a blast with it). He's a guy who just really understands the nuts and bolts of what makes an adventure fun and he provides the Judge with all sorts of exciting ways to engage his players, reward "good dungeon behavior" and still provide great thrills along the way amid the sea of paranoid caution. I love it all, Mr. Stroh, keep 'em coming.

The Iron Coast's Lichway Excursion

This past Sunday night, the Iron Coast ACKS group finished off its trip into the Lichway by finally finding the lost treasures of the Sandlanders. There are some things that I felt I did very right and some things that I felt I did very wrong, but I feel that it'll all wash out in the end. At the end of the Lichway, no fewer than three henchmen were dead, one henchman was suffering from debilitating disease, two PCs and one henchman were suffering from Mummy Rot (I took some liberties with the original stocking of the dungeon to make it more terrifying), three PCs had had to roll on the "back from death's door" table (the Mortal Wounds table) and the group was completely bereft of resources. Every spell had been cast, every potion drunk, every Liquid Courage roll used up, but every treasure had been located (I think), every secret door had been opened, every avenue for profit explored. At one point, I believe +Paul Linkowski said "I think we've found all the treasure. If we find anything else, it'll probably be trying to kill us."

In the "stuff I did wrong" column, I'll admit to going softer on the crew than I should have. In particular, when the guys were facing a duo of mummies (again, creative license), I still let the guys suffering from Mummy Rot gain half the healing from the Liquid Courage rule, despite the fact that Mummy Rot prevents all healing. I shouldn't have soft-balled that one. +Mark Donkers thinks that I gave the party too much treasure (and thus XP), but I'm not so sure I messed that up. Based on my experiences as an ACKS player, I think the treasure is right about where I'd want it. For me, the fun of ACKS is the domain game part of it, where the players have to sink vast amounts of money into furthering their goals. Paul's thief Oosh, for example, is starting up an "orphanage" in Port Scourge that will "definitely not" be a front for Caixalla's new witch coven nor Oosh's future thieves guild. Further, protecting the moneys that the group has earned (and even carting it home and selling off treasures) can be a valid source of adventure. As the first adventure winds down and the party looks to sort out exactly what happens next, they have many valuable items to get rid of, henchmen to hire, expeditions to plan (and provision), and it feels like the bulk of the next session will be in town bookkeeping and troublemaking (you just know that +Andy Block's character Lippu will have to face off with his Pirate Captain nemesis, it's only natural). Where are the players stashing all their loot? Who's going to look after it for them? Who's looking out for their interests and who's looking to take them for everything they're worth? This is the stuff that the team will have to confront next session.

Lots and Lots of Miniatures

The first new minis I've painted
in at least a decade
I've gotten back into painting minis, in large part thanks to the fact that there's a hobby shop right down the street from me. It's a nice, small, Mom & Pop sort of joint that caters more toward the modelling hobby, but has some options for wargame-y type minis (including some Citadel stuff and even a Citadel clearance shelf), which is far too convenient. I used to play 40k a lot back in the day (well, maybe not a lot, but enough that I considered myself up on the hobby in the late 90's) and I still have my soft cover copy of 1e 40k (I never got into WH Fantasy because money), though my Space Marines and Orks are MIA, so it's been fun getting my painting chops back on fantasy minis, especially since I can use them at the gaming table. My first efforts were a Gor Herd unit which, of course, get used as beastmen of the Herd in the Iron Coast. I'm messing with some Skaven, but I think that next up will be some Dark Elves (because the Nightmare/Elder Elves of Ore are a pretty badass enemy for PCs). I've been experimenting with non-Citadel paints because, again, money, something I never would have done in the olden days. Well, maybe the oldest of my olden days, but not my last "40k active" days.

I know that by now, you're probably sick of hearing about the new Reaper Bones II Kickstarter that went up today, but yeah, my newly-reborn love of minis-painting prompted me to kick for that. It was pretty amazing how fast they went from around 200k when I kicked to the 659k as of this writing (which will probably be more by the time I'm done writing). But, since those won't show up for about another year, I can't really count them in as minis on my horizon to paint. As it stands, I have, as I mentioned, some GW Dark Elf corsairs that are up next, but I'm not sure what's coming after that. I'm thinking that, with all the Iskurlandik action going on in the Iron Coast game, I'll need to pick up some vikings (I'm thinking about the Wargames Factory Viking Huscarls in case you were wondering), which makes a ton of sense to me (plus, they're cheap and should be fun to paint).

Ypsilanti Games Night

In an effort to get more folks at the gaming table, more folks sharing their kickass hobbies with other folks and more folks playing with other folks they don't often get a chance to play with, my lovely wife and I are working on sorting out a monthly gaming night at the Tap Room in beautiful downtown Ypsilanti. This is a great chance for me to run more DCC for the public (and maybe even earn that belt buckle) as well as to give some other GMs and other games some exposure. Right now, the wife and I still have to finalize plans with the Tap's boss lady so it's all up in the air. I am recruiting some other GMs to run things at other tables while I kill off some funnelbait, so let me know if you're interested. It would be a pretty unstructured "bring what you want to play" sort of thing other than that, though, which can work out nicely. Frankly, U-Con's "Games Library Day" has two things against it in my book: (1) it's during the day on Sunday (which is either for working or sleeping for me, depending on the week) and (2) it's focused far too much on board and card games with no room for rpgs or wargames, which are what I'd be far more interested in. Boardgames are fine, but not something I choose to spend much time on unless it rewards investment (like HeroQuest does), and there's no point in planning for them. If you have them and want to play them, bring them, other than that, I'm done with the subject.

Oddly enough, just last night, someone asked me completely unsolicited whether I'd be running any tabletop gaming this fall at the bar because he's interested in getting in on it. The time appears to be right!

Pulaski Days

I've mentioned it before, but this weekend marks not only the 36th anniversary of my birth, but also the Pulaski Days Polish heritage festival in Grand Rapids, MI. Polka, piwo and pierogi. If you didn't understand that last sentence, then you probably don't belong there. The weekend also marks my annual trip to Argos Bookstore in East Town, a place that's always chocked-full of treasures. We'll be moving from hall to hall, getting a plate of food and a beer, washing it down with another beer, dancing off said beer and then moving on to the next hall all day on Friday and Saturday, cooling off with a trip to the John Ball Park Zoo (which has $5 admission in the off season, so it's a bargain) on Sunday. It'll be a blast, even if my brother DID back out at the last minute!

Oh, and when I come back from Pulaski Days, it'll finally be time for +Edgar Johnson+Wayne Snyder & I to unveil our secret project. Get excited!