Thursday, December 30, 2004


Last night we made characters for Dave's new Feng Shui campaign while the guys at the other table rolled up some Mekton PCs. Barb made Elsa a.k.a. Slim a.k.a. Lucky, a Gambler that looks like Lauren Bacall. Pat pulled a fast one on me and made an Ex-Special Forces instead of a Killer. His guy is Mr. White and is played by Tommy Lee Jones. Sean's character is some sort of mafioso with gun-fu. I didn't catch the name or the template. And Ray made Mr. Black the Magic Cop. My guy is Master Fo, an Old Master with mad kung-fu skills. Here we are in a Hong Kong action movie and everyone else brought honkies! Anyway, we got partway through the intro adventure from the book, the one with the noodle shop and the zombies. I'm totally digging my guy's crazy fu powers. I felt like a kid in a candy store when I found out I could use my 10 points of Chi to power my fu schticks every frickin' sequence. I was assuming that it was 10 Chi per fight or per session or per day or something. Truly I shall go forth and kick righteous amounts of ass.

Right now we're in that early stage that some campaigns go through in which the PCs have little motivation to work together or to follow the plot. Not a problem for me as a player, I chase the adventure even if my own PC has weak motivation to do so. Some players are not always accomodating, so as a GM I like to short-circuit these issues in my own campaigns by making the PCs all be part of an organization or all working for a mysterious benefactor or at least mandating that some of the PCs know (and trust) some of the others. I'm not surprised that Dave can work without these sorts of crutches, but I would have trouble dealing with a campaign in which the PCs may at any moment wander off on their own agenda.

I originally imagined Master Fo as being played by Al Leong wearing bad old man make-up, the shocking white beard and hair like kung-fu master villains usually get. But today I found this page over at SomethingAwful. That guy is perfect! Now I just need a Kung Faux style soundtrack with some badass hiphop.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

7 Quick Mekton Campaign Ideas

Spaceship Tylor, series II

Featuring the return of Rick Sierra, Suave Oddfellow, Space Marine Jason Voorhees, and... um, what was my PC's name again?


WWII commando hijinx like the film the Dirty Dozen or Kelly's Heroes, but with mecha in space. Can be combined with the above idea.

Steel Dragons

Take Classic BattleTech, give it a hot anime injection, and recast Kurita as the good guys. House Steiner would be classy but evil 19th century Prussian villains and House Davion as the new incarnation of the Roman Empire. Could be combined with either of the above ideas. If combined with both, then Rick and Suave get reassigned to Filthy-12, the special ops company of the Legion of Vega.

Emerald Knights of Uresia

Magic-based 1/5 scale suits saving S. John Ross's world of Uresia. Goofy heroics. Mecha that fire arrows and lightning bolts. Python jokes. Villain-of-the-week style adventures. Think MegasXLR but with elves and shit.

KamenFighters are Go!

A basic Power Rangers rip-off, but with more time spent fighting 1/1 scale opponents before combining into the MegaMekton to trash the really huge villain.

Centauri Knights

Guardians of Order's other kickass BESM/BESM d20 setting book, with an emphasis on the mecha stuff and weird science.

Farewell My Lovely Atlantis

Cherry blossoms, romance, and mecha duels in the ancient past. Last few sessions should feature the cataclysmic end of the world.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Gamer-ific Xmas!

Christmas came a little early this year, as I decided to splurge while I was at the Dragon's Table on Thursday. I was there ostensibly to purchase another copy of Bohnanza, for one of my sister's friends. (The guy who drove me nuts the previous weekend, as it turns out.) But I had to snatch up the last copies of Mekton Zeta and Mekton Zeta Plus. Pat can't find my old copies and I fear I must have sold them off at some point. If they turn up I'll take it as a sign that the Big Combiner* in the Sky intended me to run a Mekton campaign. I also nabbed a new expansion for Carcassone called the Count of Carcassonne. It's a little bit weird, but fun. And it was only 5 bucks. I might not use it for every game of Carcassonne I play, but I still kinda like it.

The next day, Christmas Eve, was the get-together with my side of the family. I got my mom a Ms. Pacman gamestick from Jakks, my dad a copy of Sequence (a great family game: if you know how tic-tac-toe works and can read a deck of playing cards you already know 90% of the rules) and my sister her own copy of Carcassonne. Jenn got me, among other things, a copy of Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest. The Anderson novel is not strictly gamer material, but is an alt-universe thingy in which William Shakespeare was an accurate reporter of actual events. It merits a mention in Ken Hite's kickass conspiracy-and-gaming opus Suppressed Transmission, so it merits a mention here. Also, Shakespeare and gaming has always been a bit of a thing for me. I've long desired to take some of the plays, file off the serial numbers, add some orcs, and run the plots in a D&D campaign. Seems I'm not the only one with crazy thoughts like that. LPJ Design, one of the RPGnow powerhouse gaming mills, has recently released d20 Henry V and d20 Macbeth. My folks also got me the one game I really, really wanted for Christmas this year: the Castles & Crusades boxed set! Yay! In addition to giving and receiving games, we also got a chance to play some Bohnanza and Golfmania. Golfmania is one of the games that my wife can be induced into playing, placing it among such honored games as Illuminati and Fluxx.

Christmas Day was at the in-laws. I tell you what, it's nice to have married into a family of gamers. My brother-in-law Jim is an active wargamer and German gamers. He's the one that got me into the Monday night boardgaming group. His sons Ian and Alex are hardcore gamers in the making, as they've grown up in a household in which a fanatical devotion to the game was the norm. Heck, when I arrived Saturday they had a copy of d20 Modern sitting on the coffee table. They had enjoyed my one-shot enough that they dropped a gift card on their own copy! Looks like my '05 gaming will include a d20M campaign for the boys! My sister-in-law Anne is a SCA'er, as is her hubby Rod. Rod also does the whole boardgamer and roleplayer thing. He's been in three or four campaigns of mine. They got me this cool mug wooden tankard they had purchased at the Pennsic War. Jim and his family got me the Osprey Essential Histories guide to the Franco-Prussian War, the Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion, and the director's cut DVD of Bladerunner. I also got RISK: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy edition. Way cool. After presents were opened all five of the guys went down in the basement and played a rousing game of History of the World. Great rise-and-decline-of-empires style game, much like two other favorites of ours: Britannia and Vinci. (I understand that Barbarian, Kingdom & Empire is another good one much in the same vein.) On Sunday the whole in-law gaming crowd came over to my place and we played a stirring round of the aforementioned Vinci. I managed to pull into the lead for several turns but some effective stomping of my empires put Rod into the position to win it all. Good people, good game.

Tonight is boardgame night. We'll be playing Al Conrad's Complete History of the World variant, which he regularly runs at the Winter War. Saturday's game was a warm-up so that we would have a better idea what we are doing tonight. Wednesday night is the Pancake Hut Gang and Dave has definitely decided upon running Feng Shui. Unless the specific campaign constrains PC choice in some matter, I'm leaning toward playing a Maverick Cop foil to Pat's inevitable cold-blooded Killer. People will be called Mickey Mouse and Dumbo. Bad guys will be gunned down. Stuff will explode. As an alternate, I will cast Al Leong as the Old Master and go forth unto the world to kick much ass in the name of Kung Fu Righteousness!

*Jehovah forms the head, Jesus forms the arms and torso, while the Holy Spirit forms the legs and wings.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Note to self

Games with TV as their model for roleplaying that don't involve Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Primetime Adventures
Cartoon Action Hour

A new take of supers roleplaying?

With Great Power

Why don't I own these yet?

No Press Anthology

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Heroes, arise from your grave!

I made some progress this week on converting the PCs of my Home Team campaign from the archaic Heroes Unlimited rules that we had been using over to Mutants & Masterminds, the hot new system on the block. For reasons that I cannot fully explain, MnM got me working on a campaign with much more enthusiasm than Silver Age Sentinels ever did. Was it the slimmer, less intimidating-looking book? The use of levels? Certainly one of the reasons I went with HU initially was the use of levels as an easy way to gauge character growth. Conberting the PCs has been reasonably problem free. The Dingo, Cyborg, and Radarman are pretty much the same guys. Sue's PC (Jill Montgomery, Agent of SHIELD) is a little tougher. The breadth of Jill's core abilities (chemist, acrobat, blackbelt, SHIELD-trained operative armed with advanced SHIELD technology) makes it difficult to squeeze her into the same points as the rest of the team while retaining useful power levels. I think the best solution will probably be to allow her to start with more points but then give her half xp until the others catch up to her. That shouldn't take too long, since I'm continuing to utilize a fast-track advancement policy. After I get all the PCs squared away I then need to stat up some villains. I've got something of a plot for the next Home Team session already going on in my head. It builds off the fact that Radarman is in New York looking for the man who gunned down his brother.

Wednesday last week turned out to be a night of cardgames. First we attempted to play a game called Beer: the Card Game. Maybe it plays better when you actually have beers to consume. To the sober geeks playing it at the Pancake Hut, it was just a badly written cardgame. Then we played a couple quick games of Chrononauts. While it isn't my favorite Looney Labs game, it's still pretty darn fun. We then tried to play Star Munchkin, but I'm not entirely convinced that the game proceeded exactly as the rules dictate. Still, it was a good, silly game. I'm now kinda of the opinion that the Munchkin line of games is over-hyped, but I had a good time nonetheless. The last card game of the night was an ad hoc session of "What campaign am I in again?" Dennis's group finally finished the Evernight campaign, so it's time to break out some new campaigns. (I was about to drop a linky for Evernight in the last sentence, but apparently Shane Hensley likes to hide his pages from Google.) Dave put the names of everyone but Joe and he on some index cards and drew from them to randomly assign people to either Joe's embryonic Mekton Z campaign or Dave's TBA (to be announced) campaign. Pat and I both ended up in Dave's group, along with Ray, Barb, and Shawn. I'm hoping to hear from Dave soon as to what we are going to be doing on Wednesday next week.

Sunday the whole family went to my sister Jenn's house with Pat along for the ride. Jenn had three other friends over for a little boardgaming. We played a couple of hands of Bohnanza and a round of Carcassonne and tried to play some Illuminati. I had a pretty good time despite the fact that Jenn's friend Brian was making me crazy (overly agressive play does not make for a fun game, IMHO) and despite Jenn's furnace going out and then the power on her block blacking out! It was an interesting day. Pat made some yummy pie. Yay!

Monday night was boardgaming night as usual. We played more Bohnanza (I won one hand, yippee for me!) and yet another railroad game. I'm at a lose to report the title of the one we played. Union Pacific, maybe? Between Santa Fe, Santa Fe Rails, Ticket to Ride, American Rails, and maybe another rail game or two, I have positively lost track of which train game is which. Whatever we were playing, I was absolutely terrible at it. It was a fun game, but I stunk. Dead last place.

I'm later this week to get some more work done on the Foe File project. The last week has seen little progress on that front, save for some work on the art notes for Dennis. Also I need to get cracking on my Winter War games. (The pre-registration listing is up, by the way.) I've got 6 PCs done for Catch Me When You Can, my Jack the Ripper themed Call of Cthulhu scenario. And as I've said many a time in relation to con games, if you've got charsheets you can make the rest up. Occult Crimes Taskforce, my Savage Worlds game, remains an unfocused idea with no real work done on it. My idea of running through the Blue Rose Fast Play will probably have to wait until the first of the year or, more probably, until after the con. I need to remember to let all the interested parties in on this fact.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Being Pulled in a Million Directions

The last week or so has been really great for gaming. Monday last week I actually won a train game playing against a couple of the grognards. It's good that I win every once in a while otherwise I might get discouraged playing with those guys. Friday night I finally got a chance to run d20 Modern for the first time. I used one of the freebie adventures from My nephews Ian and Alex were the players. They had a good time and in fact described the experience as superior to the D&D games we had played, because d20 Modern is "like Dungeons & Dragons but with guns n' stuff". We may play again. I told them that if their parent's OK'ed it and if they could committ to a regular schedule that I would GM some more adventures for them. Saturday my sister Jenn came for a visit and the two of us ended up down at the Dragon's Table. Jenn was looking for a copy of Fluxx but she let me talk her into getting Bohnanza as well. Turns out my guess was right: she digs the bean game. On Sunday we both ended up dragging a couple of relatives into a couple games of Carcassonne. Last night I got together with the boardgamers again, for some more Bohnanza and a train game called Santa Fe Rails or something like that. Now tomorrow night we're supposed to be doing something with the Pancake Hut Gang. I'm not sure what. I wonder if anyone would be up for an improvised one-shot using Risus or QAGS or something like that?

I got 5 more villains handed in for my Shared Lobotomy writing project. That's means I'm 35% done with the rough draft. Unfortunately, I'm hitting a dry spot. I know more will come, but right now I got nothing. And I'm not getting any work on my con games either. I should at least throw together some PC stats for the Occult Crimes Taskforce, but I've been superbusy between work and home and actually playing games. And I got at least two more projects on the horizon: the Blue Rose Fast Play with Kathleen & Josh and Dave & Heather. (Which reminds me, I need to actually invite Heather to play. Does she get email?) And it looks like maybe the Home Team superhero campaign will be resuscitated under the Mutants & Masterminds rules, assuming I can come up with some conversions for Our Heroes. And I'd still like to do something sci-fi, but I can't quite put my finger on a setting or a system. Traveller? SpaceMaster? d20 Future? The 3rd Imperium? A near-future homebrew? A wild and wooly far future homebrew? A Trek ripoff? A Star Wars ripoff? A Star Frontiers adaptation? Something that pulls out all the stops, complete with psionic overlords, light sabres, giant robots, and buxom space wenches? I just can't make up my mind. And then there's the constant siren call of Dungeons & Dragons. My recent re-read of the 3.5 Unearthed Arcana has made that harder to resist, especially as I could maybe build a kickass campaign using the ideas put forth in Ron Edwards' Sorcerer & Sword. And if I end up with a copy of Castles & Crusades under the Christmas tree all bets are off.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Holy crap! I got 2nd place!

The initial results are in from the Chess Variants Pages 44-Square Contest and I came in second with SpaceWarp44! Totally nifty!

I'm surprised PiRaTeKnIcS didn't do better. The name's lousy, but the game is quite nifty with a mechanic that could be adapted for a lot of other variants and chesslike games.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Games N Stuff

Last Monday night's boardgaming consisted of another round of Tigris & Euphrates, followed by Puerto Rico. T&E seemed like a whole new game this time because there was some very agressive play, as opposed to the "everybody does there own thing" vibe from the previous week. Puerto Rico was a lot of fun, too. I'd put that game right up there with Settlers of Catan and El Grande on the list of German games I would buy if I had the spare money to putter in them as well as rpgs. I did better with Puerto Rico than I had in the past, though still not necessarily well.

Wednesday night the Pancake Hut group got together as usual. Dennis ran his Everknight game, leaving the rest of us (Dave, Joe, Ray, Pat, and I) to putter around with other stuff. We played a few hands of Fluxx and then a round of Carcassonne. It was very interesting playing Carcassonne with 5 players instead of the two or three I'm used to. We finished up the night by pretending we were playing poker. I say "pretending" because no money was involved. Still, the five card draw and seven card stud was a lot of fun. I think next time I will bring my Icehouse set and my Chrononauts deck. Maybe I'll re-read the rules so that I can finally play a proper game of Icehouse. So far I've only played a couple of games you play with the Icehouse toys.

Thursday morning I had to be at the Vermilion county courthouse bright and early. I suppose I should point out that this was work related. Like all court function I attend this involved a fair amount of hurry up and wait, so I brought some light reading in the form of the 3.5 Unearthed Arcana. Everytime I read this book it sells me on playing the modern D&D. There may be better modular gaming toolkits out there (GURPS and FUDGE spring to mind) but none of them are specifically designed to modularly enhance my orc-hacking. And the new UA is almost all Open Gaming Content to boot. Everytime I flip through Unearthed Arcana I get jazzed to run D&D again. This time, however, it was more than just a vague sense of "this would be cool". I got some specific ideas, like combining the "PCs roll all the dice" with OGL Fantasy Lite to produce a high-action campaign suitable for the youth. Between my two nephews Ian and Alex, Don McKinney's son Michael, and Dave Hoover's son Mark I know enough young players that I could do it.

But then, Dave's been on me to not run anything while I got this writing assignment hanging over my head. He made that abundantly clear Sunday when the Shared Lobotomy yahoos got together at my place. He's right as rain of course. Between writing supervillains and prepping for Winter War, I've got my plate full. But the Pancake Hut group needs two GMs, but we only have one signed on for the next round of role-playing chicanery. I'd sure as hell wouldn't mind playing in a Feng Shui game ran by Dave, even though it'd hurt just a bit to drop the bread to buy another copy of the corebook. But then who's running for the other five or six players while he and I are GMing? Right now the answer is "no one". And then there's the issue that right now none of us are actively playing an incarnation of the d20 system, yet we have the audacity to conisder writing for it. Not good. So I made a deal with myself, if not exactly with Dave, that if I could finish 15 villains by 12/29, then I would start a new campaign. Assuming no one steps up to the plate in the meantime. If someone else wants to run something cool, more power to them. Maybe Joe will get things together sufficiently to run Mekton. That doesn't solve the d20 shortage, but it would kick a lot of ass to be able to choose between Hong Kong Action Movies and Giant Robot Anime.

Later last night after shooing the Shared Lobotomy goonsquad out the door, my brother-in-law Jim and his sons came over. We played two rounds of Carcassonne. I finally got my big meeples marked with a silver sharpie. That helped me tell where the big guys were on the field. The second game we played was a total trainwreck, scoring lower than most any game I've played since getting several expansions. We had several one-tile holes in the array and a couple large multi-tile flubs as well.

If you like stupid webtoons you ought to check out Weebl & Bob. I just discovered this site today and it's cracking me up. Maybe not as fall down funny as Homestar Runner at its best, but still pretty dang cool.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Thought for the Day

A PC is basically someone who has little to no fear of the unknown or losing everything they have in order to take a chance, and that's a pretty badass power right there.