Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Again into Buffalo Castle!

First, there was Edgar the Sickly and of the questionable career choice. 5'8 and a whopping 95 lbs, his general weakness (str 6, con of 11 however) and high IQ (15) lead to years studying, then writing copious amounts of poetry (talent: poet). What his parents, nor anyone else expected was the author of the renowned, Ode to a Handsome Milk Maid I Spied Not Creepily, and the epic, I Sing of Salt Marsh, to take up questing. 

He should have stuck to poetry: killed by a troll not moments after entering the castle

Then came Gorn the Dim Stonecutter, aka "Slim Speedy," Gorn was blessed with muscle and quickness (str 13, spd 14) but the intelligence of a walnut (iq 4). No one was surprised when the 6'7 160lb stonecutter gave up the daily grind for a life of adventure. 

Oddly, he was killed in the castle by sea creatures - two giant jelly-fish dropped on him, causing significant damage, and then later an octopus of unusual size bludgeoned him to death with its tentacles.

Finally, there came Joe Average. He lacked everything, but mostly creativity in choosing a name, descriptive of his abilities as it was. He had no talents, he couldn't be bothered. He adventured because it was something to do. 

He was crushed beneath the pounding hooves of buffalo on a vast and grassy plain deep within the castle that bears their name.


I did roll up another character, but that one came in at level two, thanks to a Dex of 23 and the adventure is for level 1 warriors. The 13 combat adds total he had would have been nice, but I didn't want a cake walk either.

Having now made several trips into Buffalo Castle, I'm not so sure I'll be going back again anytime soon. The gonzo-ness is wonderfully old school, but it seems like a bit of a "killer dungeon" for a lowly level 1 warrior and I'm getting tired of rolling up characters to have them die an encounter or two into the adventure.

It's a classic, and the 1st of its kind, and it has definitely helped me get familiar with character generation, equipment, saving rolls, and combat,  so I'm glad I gave it a go, but I have a lot of other solitaire modules / adventures to try.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Descent into Buffalo Castle - Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

Saturday night, I broke out the Deluxe T&T rulebook for the second time, grabbed my freshly minted copy of the classic Buffalo Castle and prepared to roll up a new character. This is a solitaire adventure for a single low-level warrior, so Type (equivalent to DnD class) was predetermined.

For those familiar with earlier editions of T&T, char gen is pretty much the same as always. There is a starting talent thing that I don't recall seeing in 5th edition, but basically no surprises.

During the kick starter for Deluxe T&T, i purchased a factory sealed 5th edition boxed set, complete with dice with a troll face in place of the 1. The inaugural game with this system seemed like the right time to bring out those dice. The clatter of dice and the scratching of pencil on paper and:

First (that I said 'first' is already a bad sign) there was Thorn the Bearded, a viking type who rolled an abysmal Luck of 6, and a Constitution(which functions as Hit Points in T&T) of 8. Still, his other stats were good enough that he had 5 combat adds, and I hoped to get some decent armor, a shield and maybe a sword or some such.

Like DnD (at least the editions I'm familiar with), you roll 3d6 * 10 for starting gold.  I rolled a six. SMH. With 60 gp starting money it was not meant to be.

No matter though. 

Thorn fell into a pit almost immediately, in true old school fashion. While searching for a secret door, he was set upon by a giant jellyfish dripping deadly sliminess from above. As he wore no helmet, he was defenseless, and with his low constitution and the damage from the preceding fall, he was dead.

But fret not, for then came Karak, the Stout and Beautiful (Constitution of 29 and Charisma of 27. I rolled 18s for both! In  T&T, when you roll 18 you get to roll again and add it to the total ) His luck was better too, double Thorn's. Clearly, here was a hero.

Having learned from my mistakes Karak was equipped with a skull cap, and due to more bountiful coin (110 starting gp), he was better equipped all around.

Karak's first encounter was with a frighteningly large and aggressive octopus. Early successes against the first two of the eight arms eventually involved kept the fight within a reasonable chance of success and when all was said and done, the cephalopod was vanquished (for 80 Adventure Points).

Flushed with excitement, I eagerly scanned the paragraph for the details of its treasure. A die roll later, and alas, the creature had a meager treasure of but 10 gold.

Despite the ease by which he could have exited, Karak went further into the castle (the rules state that a character may only enter Buffalo Castle one time. So, if he left, he would be done with the adventure). At times he wandered through halls becoming hopelessly turned around (I really should have kept better track of where I had been). 

A wandering orc challenged him but was cut down with ease, and yielded a bag full of silver. In spite of his successes, our hero thought better than to try his luck with a gambling wizard. For his caution, the wizard cursed him with ugliness (halved his charisma, but still, at 14, Karak was at least Stout and Attractive, if not Beautiful) and called him chicken.

A stampede of buffalo was both a strange sight and a long encounter that left him more or less intact and with some valuable hides (5 g.p. each) to sell back in town. And again, Karak pressed on, sure that more treasure awaited.

Then, upon boldly entering one more room, an ogre bashed him senseless.

[In T&T doubles mean you can roll and add to the results to the previous roll and in one round of combat, the ogre rolled 51 points. A near miracle occurred as I rolled successive doubles myself, but my total was only 32. My armor absorbed 6 points - thanks to my warrior ability to wring every last bit of protection from it, leaving 13 to remove from my CON. Which, unfortunately was all I had left at that point.]

I spent a lot of time flipping through the rule book looking up this and that, but the adventure was fun, and frustrating in that i-want-to-play-it-again-and-do-better kind of way. I'll be rolling up another character soon and giving it another go.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

More Thoughts on a "Modern" Campaign

As I added to my previous post, rifling around through the books on my games shelf (a single shelf. I got rid of more than 1/2 of my gaming related books collection over the past year!) I discovered both Morschauser and Featherstone (in his Advanced War Gaming) provide some interesting mechanisms for running a map campaign.

Both have a simplicity that I like, although Featherstone muddies things up with several optional bits - more complexity sounds great to me at first, but I have learned that in war gaming ,and RPGs, for that matter, there is a point where my enthusiasm wanes in proportion.

Morschauser's system is the harsher of the two, in that if a force loses a battle, they are just done and no longer available for the strategic level. There is the benefit of no record keeping in that case, but it does seem a bit difficult to swallow. Still, he uses painted wooden blocks on a map and who doesn't like the sound of that?

Featherstone 's method for generating a random map sounds quite fun - using 2"x 2" painted squares drawn at random and placed into a 12" square frame .

I believe it was in Featherstone that I saw mention of the often cited "rule" of 1/3 of casualties are killed, 1/3 are wounded and not available for some time period and 1/3 are combat ready by the next encounter.

Even if I did not see it there, that rule of thumb has a long pedigree and who am I to resist something with such history?

Of course, I could combine the two (blocks on a randomly generated map, using casualty recovery)

The other issue I find myself considering is the level of command.

Initially, I was thinking commanding a company at most in a given game, however, a battalion would not be out of the question, either with Morschauser or Blitzkrieg Commander, both of which work with the same basing systems I intend to use. It's more a narrative question than it is a gaming issue.

Scenarios in any case, I think are well accounted for with Blitzkrieg Commander, FiveCore's Company Command, and Platoon Forward (moved up a level) all providing scenario ideas, plus One Hour Wargames, and tabletop teasers (and presumably, situations would naturally arise from the campaign).

Next, I need to look at my collection and see what, if anything, I want to paint (OK, need to paint. Want is a strong word) - I think I may be short some heavy infantry, and I know my anti-tank gun teams need some love.

Friday, August 26, 2016

WWII and Imaginations? Some thoughts and links

Over on 54mm or Fight! you can see that the sole wargaming I've been doing of late is set in Europe, WWII. While I enjoy playing one-off scenarios, my Helvetica Campaign (you can find the posts by going here and scrolling down to Helvetica) remains among the top wargaming experiences I've had, and so, logically, it seems to me that I should try something similar set in WWII or thereabouts.

But, so few wargaming campaigns discussed in blogs seem to be set in WWII, never mind Imaginations WWII-like campaigns. That doesn't mean I won't do it, but I was hoping for a bit of inspiration. (Far mor involve  20th C. South American or African Imaginations, it seems).

The likely route will be the  continental battle between Hefeweizen ( nee Riesling in the pre-unification days ) and the allies of Sauvignon-Blanc, particularly the Federal Republic of Lager. Or, perhaps, less evocative/alcoholic, Army Feldgrau vs Army Olive Drab.

Obviously thin veneers for the actual participants but what can you do?

My searching eventually lead me to an Imaginations 20th century mini-campaign on one of the better respected blogs, Wargaming Miscellany. The posts begin with this one I believe.  Mr. Cordery also stirs up the idea a bit a few years earlier in this post.

As for campaign rules, I know already that I don't want anything terribly complicated - nothing to do with supply and all that, although reinforcements and casualty replacement should come into play. And, I really enjoy the narrative "campaign diary" stuff, so if it supports that in some way, all the better.

  • Jeff, at Saxe-Bearstein's method worked well for Helvetica, and had the benefit of no map being required, although one developed during play. I keep getting stuck on the battle to the capitals though. This is probably a me thing, and perhaps I just need to change the labels? Perhaps the FRL "capital" is actually more akin to Normandy, while the initial battle takes place in a Battle of the Bulge-type situation?
  • Rather serendipitously, Peter at Grid Based Wargaming - But Not Always, has recently posted a series about this very topic. Looks like it might be more than I want, but I may be able to strip out the bits I don't want.
  • Featherstone, in his Wargaming Campaigns, touches ever so briefly on a WWII campaign, but focuses specifically on recon, and leaves everything else for the reader to develop (presumably from ideas presented in other chapters).
  • Kevin White (one of my all time favorite contributors to Lone Warrior),  sets up a map based WWII mini-campaign in issue 182 of Lone Warrior. I had trouble following some of the setup, and need to re-read this.
  • TMP is always a stop for debates about nothing, and this time is no different :D And here the participants debate why 18th C. imaginations over imaginations in other eras.
  • Platoon Forward might work if I change the scale upwards for a company per side, or I suppose I could just use it at the intended level.
Edit: It turns out I should have paid closer attention to Morschauser and Featherstone (Advanced War Games). Both have systems of map moving that would work for modern games. Indeed, Featherstone  explicitly uses a WWII campaign for his example.

If you have a preferred way of building campaigns, particularly for WWII company-level engagements (maybe battalion), please shoot them my way.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Was I Thinking?

I was thinking this blog was probably dead, which is why I started 54mm or Fight! What little hobby stuff I had been doing, other than reading, had been solely focused around 54mm games and a focus on that seemed logical.

But  now, as I find myself with the unusual situation of increasing free time, thanks in part to the Young Lord Shadowmoss (who just turned 5) playing more independently (some evenings, he disappears after dinner to play Minecraft until bedtime), my mind has been turning to neglected projects.

So, instead of being dead, it may be that this blog was just dormant. Color me surprised.

One thing I'm not going to do is set any kind of hobby goals (*crosses fingers*) , despite my natural inclination to do so.

That said, these are the projects/areas of interest at present that I'm jumping between:

54mm WWII - mostly just playing games, as I have a decent enough collection here for toy-like games (I'm generally not aiming for simulation). I did switch from mostly 1/35ish vehicles to 1/50ish, and though they cost more, I am much happier with the look of the thing. US paratroops are on the paint table since I just re-watched Band of Brothers.

1/72 Italian front, WWI - I read The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919  (excellent book and highly recommend) for background, and I've got several more books to read. But of course, I've started painting (slowly) because I couldn't wait.

Still deciding on rules/basing. Possibly HMG from Agema (command a battalion, individually based) or Hordes in the Trenches (command a battalion, up to a regiment / brigade maybe base per Hordes of the Things), or maybe just GASLIGHT (make individual units a company or battalion; individually based) with some rules for gas and barrages. Trying to keep figure totals small. Contemptible Little Armies (individually based) might work too for that reason.

54mm AWI - this is a very slow going project for giggles since of the places I've lived, I lived in Philadelphia the longest(plus, I recently read David McCullough's 1776). Figures are mostly Imex  and I've got all of 2 painted so far. Might just base these for Neil Thomas OHW with a 4" base, with 8 figures per base, or use them with a set of rules for the period by Charles Wessencraft (woo! Old school!) or All the Kings Men.

Solo RPG
- Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls kickstarter stuff came with a bunch of solitaire modules. It's not the free form of The Ever Expanding Dungeon, but I really want to play these modules as they are usually a fun time, very low commitment and obviously, very low prep.
This is not the edition of Buffalo Castle I have, but I wish it was.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back in the Gaming Groove (sort of)

Hi there!

After a long time away from blogging about my gaming, or even reading other blogs about gaming, I'm back.

However, now I'm over at

I plan to mostly talk about wargaming with 54mm / 1:32 figures as the name implies.

Not that that's all I'm working on (Italian Front WWI and my ever ongoing GNW project, both in 1/72), but I haven't painted anything in almost a year, nor gamed in any other scale in that time, so there's little to say there yet.

As for solo role-playing, the thing most people seem to know me for, and still come here for according to the stats, I haven't done any in quite some time.

Even my 2 year+ Trelleborg campaign for my in-person group has dissipated (due to other projects I'm involved with that use the bulk of my creative energy and time), so, as you can guess, I'll be quiet on the RPG front a little longer.

Still, I just read the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls rules the other day and cannot remember the last time a set of rules had me so fired up to play.

And, of course, DragonCon is coming and the possibility of running / playing games is quite high.

I hope you'll join me over on and thanks for reading!