Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Wrap-up and Looking To November

Happy Halloween! 

I hesitate to call it a treat, but here for your viewing pleasure (?) the results of my October painting:

Two Brigade Games G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. 15mm figures:

The completed 15mm Khurasan Salamen archers and shaman (1 of them fell behind the table before this photo was taken. Rest assured, he's painted):

And finally, two units of GNW Russians suitable for use as Pskovski (Osprey), Smolenski (Osprey), and Belgorodski (Condray). This is also the color scheme I think of for this period, but of course, I'm probably a victim of marketing, as it's the color scheme used on the Zvezda box:

Basing won' be done until all the units are complete. That's just my preference.
I also managed to get in a few wargames and even advanced my Tunnels & Trolls warrior, "Crazy" Joe (cut me some slack, he was like the tenth character I  sent through the The Blood War of Saxon adventure and by then, I had run out of name ideas!) to 2nd level.You'd think I'd bump up his DEX of 5 to 6, but I decided instead to bump his strength from 12 to 14.

For November:

  • Finish reading A Wizard of Earthsea
  • Paint one 12-figure unit GNW (red facings, leather breeches) 
  • Play another T&T solitaire using "Crazy" Joe or a wargame
  • Design and play a complete game from start to finish, and blog about the experience,for NaGa DeMon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NaGa DeMon Approaches!

In less than 48 hours, NaGa DeMon 2012 kicks off. 

I've settled on which game I'm going to try and build - it's neither rpg nor wargame, but a good time waster game (I hope). Details will follow but it's one I think I can bring to completion in the allotted time of 30 days. 

Of course, given it takes place in November, which means Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and for Team Shadowmoss, a week visiting my parents as a result, I really have about 22 days to work on this.

In order to be a little more realistic about what I'll get done then, in addition to the solitaire gaming and weekly working on rules/scenery/etc., I'm going to shoot for just 1 more unit of 12 GNW Russians and the Irregular Miniatures Dark Elf melee troops (they are not getting done in the next 30 or so hours, as I'm busy cranking out the 2nd GNW unit).

Monday, October 29, 2012

The One Where I Take on Yet Another Project

I'm not really sure what happened to my post about game plans for the weekend - it appears Blogger ate it. 

As it was my plans were a bust - a teething child trumps painting and gaming, generally speaking.

While trying to sooth Young Lord Shadowmoss by rocking him to sleep, my brain wandered and before I knew it,  I had decided to take on another project: I am going to read my way through Moldvay's "Inspirational Source Material" on page B62 of the basic rulebook. 

Why? As noted in the introduction to the list, "Sometimes a little research is useful to improve a dungeon, flesh out a scenario, and provide inspiration for a campaign."

Although I read a lot of mythology when I was younger, fantasy and science fiction titles were few and far between among the books I chose to read. In fact fiction in general, other than school related assignments, was largely absent from my reading preferences. It wasn't until well after college that I discovered how much I could enjoy fiction. With few exceptions, I haven't read the titles that appear on B62. I'm on a mission to rectify that.

True, "B62"  doesn't have the same power of name that "Appendix: N" does, but I never enjoyed AD&D like I enjoyed the basic rulebook (and still do, 30+ years later), and so it has much more appeal to me.

Now, I typically read rather quickly, but lately, finding (or making) the time to read has been the challenge. So, I expect this project will take quite some time to complete. But this is certainly one of those cases where the journey promises to be far more interesting than the destination. 

First stop: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Painting Progress! + Loot Left on My Doorstep!

First up, a unit of Great Northern War Russians - they aren't done yet, but that's why the post title says "progress" and not "finished.":

I'm rather happy with how they are turning out. The green may or may not be too light - either way I like it. It's Americana Forest Green. It's a little thin and, of course, I thinned it more before I realized that, so it's almost a glaze over the black undercoat. I'll go back and hit the green with an even thinner second coat  tonight, when I finish the muskets as there are some spots where the black shows through a little too much.

And these were in my mailbox (and on my doorstep, two different packages):

Is it me, or does Volley & Bayonet look like an Evel Knievel related product

Although I've been through B2 as a player many times, I've never run it. I've never played or run B1. I'm looking forward to running both for my local rpg meetup group in 2013, as I try to spread a little Old School love in the Atlanta area. I'll probably use Labyrinth Lord rather than B/X properly speaking, just because it's probably easier to get LL.  If not, then maybe Basic Fantasy, The Searchers of the Unknown or even Microlite OSS.

Why Volley & Bayonet? Because there's an article in an issue of MWAN that details using it for the GNW (and I have a PDF cooy). Sadly that's all the justification it takes! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday Night Fight: A Bigger Grid for Bigger Figures

As I mentioned in my last game report, I had acquired some poster board to make a grid with larger squares for my 1/32 figures. 

My original plan had been 6" squares, but I used 5" squares instead to gain a little more on the grid. In total, I put the grid on 3 pieces of poster board (total cost $3.00), but in the end opted to game on only two. Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame: Modern has compressed movement and firing ranges, compared to his Memoir of Modern Battle, which means less space is needed.

The scenario was simple again - both sides had to capture the village (2 out of 3 buildings would win). I really need to design better scenarios but for testing, it works well enough.

3x Infantry units
1x MG unit
1x Anti-tank unit
1x Commander

2x Infantry unit
1x MG unit
1x Commander
1x T-34

The Soviets committed a glaring tactical error early on, sending the T-34 without an infantry escort: 

 and paid for it:

Still, they made a quick claim to the village:

 The Germans advanced left, right and center. Building-to-building fighting broke out in the village:

The end result was the elimination of a Soviet unit and their Commander! 

Meanwhile, fighting erupted on the Soviet left with the unit being held in reserved and the advancing German unit:

The Soviet right is pushed back to their baseline as the German center and left advanced to the edge of the village:

The Soviets were forced to concede defeat. The Germans had control of all three buildings:

On a somewhat related note (which means it's somewhat unrelated), the night before, I had decided to try out 2" squares for some 19th Century imaginations gaming, using 2 figures per unit for Bob Cordery's Memoir of Battle:

This is the only picture I took, grainy as it is. The game was a lot of fun - the troops in the fort held off the assault until the attackers were nearly eliminated.  This an another way to stretch a small number of figures into a sizable battle. This will be most useful for the planned Riesling / Sauvignon-Blanc conflict on the continent and a fantasy campaign I have in mind for 2013.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free Worldwide Shipping at!

I don't often announce sales/specials/deals since other people do it much better and that's not what this blog is really about, but this is the kind of thing that shouldn't go unmentioned.

This is an experiment for them, and it ends Nov 2!

If shipping was holding you back from placing an order, here's your chance.

Frankly, from my perspective, their shipping rates weren't that high, but on the losing end of the currency conversion, it was a deterrent. Less on shipping = more on miniatures.

Now, hopefully I'll get the mail the day the package comes and not Lady Shadowmoss. 

She's not nearly as convinced that breaking my oath to not buy more minis in 2012 is, in fact, making the world a better place.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tabletop Diversions Turns One!

Happy Blogoversary to me!

I can't believe it's been in a year already. 

This blog started out as my attempt to "pay it forward" for all of the ideas and inspiration I get from reading other people's blogs. And while I may or may not have succeeded, to my surprise, writing about my gaming regularly has enriched my own experience of the tabletop wargame and RPG hobbies.

I'm excited about what year two will bring.

And now, it's time for the first year numbers:

  • 180: The total number of posts.
  • 150: Number of comments (although many are my replies to comments).
  • 9333: Total number of page views.
  • 31: Number following using the "Join This Site" feature: 
  • 45: Number of subscribers according to Google Reader:  (I believe the 31 are included here)

According to Blogger, these are the top 5 posts (well 6, because  5th and 6th position are close to changing):


Apr 8, 2012, 5 comments
Aug 24, 2012, 2 comments

I suspect the Random Dungeon Generator Pocketmod will make its way to the top 3 soon enough. I have no idea why "Yet Another Monthly Goal Post" gets so many views.

Finally, the following posts are some of my personal favorites (as are several of the above): 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

November is National Game Design Month

I learned this morning over on The Savage Afterworld that November is National Game Design Month (NaGa DeMon). It also happens to be National Novel Writing Month (I participated in this a few years ago - it was a lot of fun although I only made it to around 35,000 words. I ceased to care about the characters around 20,000 words, which spelled its doom.) and National NonFiction Writing Month.

(I'm pretty sure the use of "national" is irrelevant and you can participate wherever you are.)

I did some reading and talked to Lady Shadowmoss about it. She is encouraging me to pursue NaGa DeMon.

I have several ideas floating around - including one for solitaire dungeon crawls (wow, go figure) and another for a light-hearted rpg - and participating in the month long event (and posting about it) might give me the kick in the pants I need to take one of my ideas to a play-test ready document.

Then again, I've wanted to do a zine since I first encountered them in the likes of Dishwasher, Dumpsterland, Cometbus and others "back in the day." And of course, the current rpg zine renaissance is inspiring to say the least.

Yes, a zine isn't really in either camp - and a 50, 000 word zine would be absurd. (There's a  24 Hour Zine challenge in July for those interested) - but I don't see anything wrong with making it as part of NaGa DeMon  especially if I include a game in the zine.

Hmm. Something to think on.

I encourage anyone who tinkers with rules for their wargames and their rpgs to consider participating.

Maybe it's time to design the game you want to play!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Unpainted 1/32 Army Men Take to the Table in Generic Capture Village Scenario

This weekend I managed to squeeze in a fun grid-based game using my 1/32 unpainted WWII Eastern Front forces. Rules were a Frankenstein's Monster of Bob Cordery's "Memoir of Modern Battle", Mike Crane's "Pacific Island Assault", Sacre Bleu and some house-rulings.

I ran the Russians and used dice to control the Germans. Both sides started with 1 platoon (3 figs), 1 HMG section (1 MG and 1 other figure), and a commander(single officer figure) on the table and could dice for reinforcements per my house-rules.

The randomized phases of the game, taken directly from Sacre Bleu (you can see this laid out in the Full Size Preview on the WargameVault site if you follow the link above) aided in creating tension - a much needed feature of solo games.

The objective for both sides was to capture and hold the village (the single building in the center).

The game was an overwhelming victory for Germany, as the Russian reinforcements never materialized.

Here's the scene just prior to the Russian surrender:

I did make the mistake of having only one victory objective, which focused the action in the middle of the board. Ideally, there would have been more objectives to spread the forces out.

Not that it would have helped the Russians - they needed a 4-6 to get reinforcements, and every time they rolled a 1, 2, or 3! 

Now, I know it doesn't look like much - but for a hastily thrown together game, it was a blast. If I use these rules again, I'll incorporate the ranges from the new Portable Wargame: Modern rules.

Importantly, I have conclusive evidence that I need a bigger grid surface if I'm going to use 1/32 figures on it.

Talk about cramped! The 24" x 27" surface I have now works well for 1/72, not so much for 1/32. Fear not, I've already acquired some large sheets of  $0.99 poster board for just such thing.

Great Northern War Basing Resolved!

Thanks to Bluebear Jeff, my basing dilemma for the Great Northern War project has been put to rest.

The plan is to acquire a pile of 1/2" diameter (outside diameter) washers for infantry, probably 1" OD for the cavalry and then acquire and cut magnetic sheet to the desired multi-fig base size.

I'm using Warfare in the Age of Reason as my de facto standard for multi-fig basing,but this approach will allow me to quickly and easily re-base the forces for all of the rules I've been looking at : Horse, Foot and Guns, the simple rules on the Junior General site, None Shall Pass, Age of Musket: Tricorn and Musket, or individually for use with Woodland Warriors, GASLIGHT, Sacre Bleu and other skirmish games. 

Wow. I just noticed how many sets of rules I'm considering and that's not even all of them!

Friday, October 12, 2012

October Goals - Belated Just Like September's!

Well once again, the first of the month came and went, and I failed to take a look at my goals. Better late than never and all that.

2012 Goals:

I'm still on track to reach the goals I set for the year and barring any unforeseen circumstances, I can pretty much coast until 2013. 

I met the blog post goal months ago, and in fact, I've tried to reduce the frequency of posting a bit (with limited success).

I've already gotten in my solo gaming this month with Tunnels & Trolls and I feel a tabletop miniatures battle is imminent as well. It seems like I'm always thinking about something gaming related, whether it's planning, research, reading rules, writing rules, daydreaming, etc. so that box is checked.

Monthly Goals:

Top on my list for what I want to accomplish in October is to decide on a basing scheme for the Great Northern War project. I started out inspired by Morschauser's How to Play War Games in Miniature and the multi-figure to a base approach, but then, persuaded by some posts from the "old school" wargaming blog community of their various battles, I thought about individually basing the figures.

Indeed, I was firmly decided to do just that, but then I re-read Morschauser (plus these posts of some of his writing), and now I'm not so inclined towards individually based figures. Decisions decisions. (As the meme goes ,"Can't decide to base miniatures individually or multi-figures per base. First world problems.")

Painting-wise, I'll finish up the Khurasan Salamen, Irregular Dark Elves, and some oddball figures (two Brigade Games G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. and one Irregular Western Gentleman) then turn to the Zvezda GNW Russian infantry. I'll shoot for 24 figures this month for the GNW.

My prep work is largely done until we play again, so, my Labyrinth Lord game needs nothing from me other than keeping track of ideas I have. Instead, I will play at least one more T & T solitaire module to scratch my fantasy RPG itch.

So that's October. Like September, I'm keeping my list pretty unambitious. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Khurasan Salamen Paint Scheme Concept

When I painted my lizard man army, I missed an opportunity to do something more interesting than green. So, taking no chances with the Khurasan Salamen, I went online and found pictures of real salamanders. There are a lot of cool schemes possible but this is my favorite:

And here's my proof of concept:

It looks much better from gaming distance - but I'll still tighten up the yellow a bit. I only have 8 more to paint (8 archers and 1 shaman). 

The only downside of the evening was discovering that my favorite red paint had dried out - it was to function as the base red for Kievski regiment. Looks like I'll be placing that order sometime soon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An RPG Weekend

Another weekend where the Labyrinth Lord game was scheduled and then cancelled. It's a little frustrating, but not unexpected when your group is composed of adults with jobs and families. We may try to play via Skype this week due to some business travel, but I'm not holding my breath.

Fortunately, I was able to get my group rpg fix: I played in a Call of Cthulhu game Saturday afternoon.We wrapped up our investigation from the last session - where fire, as usual, became the PC weapon of choice - and my character is now in possession of two rather handy dandy tomes: Revelations of Glaaki and The King in Yellow. Seems a bit like finding two really powerful magic items in a D&D campaign in one adventure - something that should be highly unlikely - but there it is. Now, given I only have 20 sanity points - I'm unlikely to read the former, but the latter doesn't pose a terrible risk (worst case 1d6).

On Sunday night, having more or less completed reading Tunnels & Trolls, I rolled up a character, and then another, and another, and another, in my attempt to make my through a solitaire adventure from the first issue of Trollzine, "The Blood War of Saxon." The two characters that survived, were banished from the town for failing the mission. The rest died in a variety of ways.

I did run into an one odd situation where a zombie couldn't hurt my character, thanks to my armor and shield, but due to my combat minus (-6), I couldn't hit it. And, being a solitaire, there was no option to go back (it seems even paragraphs where you are unscathed don't often have an option taking you back to the previous paragraph). I suppose I should have allowed my character that option, but I just decided that the PC would finally succumb to exhaustion and die.

I may run a few more characters through it, or I may just take one of my survivors and move them on to another solitaire.

On the miniature front, I glued my Russians to their painting sticks and they are ready for priming, along with some Irregular Dark Elves and Khurasan Salamanders in 15mm. The weather is right for spray priming and I expect this week will be dedicated to getting the painting started.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Download Available: Moldvay Era Classes in USR

Like chocolate and peanut butter, I think Moldvay-era classes go great with USR (as I've written several times before) for some dungeon crawl fun.

I've combined my first and second post on the topic along with some new ideas into a pocketmod for your edification (and my own enjoyment, frankly - i love pocketmods!): 

For those not so enamored of the pocketmod format as I am, here it is in full size glory.

Links will be added to the Downloads page eventually.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Read an RPG Book in Public Week!

Actually, it started Sunday, but I was driving all day and then I worked from home yesterday, so today was the first day I could participate in the third and final Read an RPG Book in Public Week of 2012.

Participating is easy: grab an RPG book (rules, bestiary, module, whatever), go out in public, read it where people can see you.

A dead-tree book makes more sense here than an e-reader since the point is to make RPGs more visible to the general public.

You can get all the details you want at The Escapist.

I went with Tunnels & Trolls, 5.0. I've read bits and pieces but I wanted to read the whole thing start to finish, and this was as good an excuse as any

I have to say, I'm not even close to finished with reading it ,and I see a lot I like. 

The combat system is simultaneous - there's no initiative or anything like that.  It's all factored into the combat adds system. It's scalable too. More than one combatant on a side then they total their dice. I'm sure at some point this would bog down, but for the usual dungeon encounters it would definitely move things along.

The class system appeals to me as well. While one can choose to be a warrior, mage or rogue, one is born a warrior - mage. That is,the warrior - mage has hard limit stat minimums across the board that are ALL above average. They will be a rare thing indeed.

The magic system allows a spell caster to cast a spell of any level (provided they can find a way to learn it) for an additional cost in STR (you use STR points to cast spells. Another feature I like.). This is something I know would help me sell it to Lady Shadowmoss.

Speaking of, experience is not given for gold or magic items (her pet peeve - she feels it forces characters to have gold as a motivation). It is given for a whole host of other reasons though, many explained and with minimal modification, portable to other game systems. Which, by the way, is exactly what I'll be doing for my Labyrinth Lord game.

I'm looking forward to rolling up some characters at lunch and giving one of the many available solitaire adventures a try.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hurricon Post-Con Impressions

Hurricon 2012 was the second gaming convention I've been to; the first was Historicon 2009. There's quite a difference between the two and I have to say, I much prefered Hurricon. 

The convention was large enough that there were plenty of gaming options to choose from and vendors to give your money to, but small enough that I recognized people walking in the hallways around the hotel. And, to a person, everyone I met, was friendly and welcoming. I also found it refreshing that RPGs and boardgames were equally accepted and had participants. 

In addition to gaming, I spent some time talking to vendors - particulalry All the King's Men and Splintered Light. Both readily answered my questions and tolerated my fanboy fawning. Had I not burned through my budget at the latter, then i would have done so at the former.

As I mentioned previously, I played my first game of Pathfinder on Friday night. I never did get to play the dungeon crawl. Probably for the best. I don't see myself investing in the system, despite the widespread availability of gaming tables that feature it.

Saturday morning, I participated in "The Battle of Bloody Bridge". From the gaming grid: "at 2:30am on July 31, 1763. Captain James Dalyell is leading a force in a suprise attack on Pontiac." 

The rules were Woodland Wars - an out of print rules set to the best of my determination. They were relatively simple Leader/Extra type rules with one officer/leader per unit of 10-12 figures. 

I only had my cell phone, and the pics didn't come out all that great, but never the less, here's the setup with the British column moving towards the bridge. 

Waiting in ambush at the bridge are two large units of Native Americans, in addition to 4 smaller groups on the near side of the table and one smaller group, plus reinforcements in the woods on the upper right of the table.

The players controlled the native force while the GMs handled the British. Here's a shot of one of my warbands:

The battle ended due to time, although the GMs conceeded that the British could not win, given their positions and the fact that we hadn't even brought the reinforcements. I wasn't so convinced. All the British had to do was charge the natives and they were likely to break and run - the rules do not favor the Indians accepting a charge.

One of my warbands shot up the British artillery crew while the other player moved his warband in to finish them, but not before he captured the two wagons of supplies.
The rules use card activation and a combination of dice and cards for combat and damage. So, of course, I could not leave without asking for a copy of the QRS. I think the rules have potential for solo gaming and my Great Northern War project, specifically.

My next game was nowhere to be found (meaning I couldn't find the table), so I took that as an opportunity to head to my room for a nap, food, and to play a game using the Small Space Sci-Fi setup. One change I made was to reduce the grid squares to .85 inches, which gains me one extra row of 10 squares. Had I thought to change the margins, it probably could have been 2 rows of 10.

My final game Saturday night was "Dog Town" using the Gutshot! rules. 

There was a great deal of roleplay in this game. In fact, we each played a character with very familiar looking stats: STR, INT, WIS, DEX, CON, CHR. 

We started out trying to escape an impending dust storm and avoid bandits that had been tailing us by driving our wagons and cattle to the town. 

In town, some of us did some exploring while others went to the saloon as the storm picked up - which ended up with one the players accidentally shooting another player as we tried to drag the latter from the bar. At least an hour or real time passed before we had a combat encounter.

The bandits turned out to be the least of our worries. It was the werewolves that were the trouble!

There were some hilarious moments as we ran around the table trying to avoid them, both to survive and to find a way to beat them. We actually managed to defeat them a few minutes shy of midnight - the official ending time for games on Saturday night.

It was a fun scenario, but there was far too much metagaming for my tastes. Many of the players were friends of, or at least familiar with, the GM and knew his style and were using that to guide their actions. Several times player knowledge of silver weapons came up - an impossibility for the characters as they had never encountered or heard of werewolves before. Still, it didn't detract from the fun , and made for some spirited exchanges between players.

Sunday morning, I left earlier than I originally planned. No one else had signed up for the dungeon crawl and frankly, had I gone back to the game/vendor room, I'd have hit the atm and then really blown my budget! 

Well, I did buy a membership in HMGS-South. I had so much fun and want to support it any way I can. And, I think I'd like to participate more next time, possibly running an RPG one shot (probably Labyrinth Lord, or possibly something with a historical theme).