Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Weirdo Beardos

One of the advantages of playing a miniature heavy version of B/X is that it gives you complete control over character selection.  Taking a general WYSIWG approach to things makes it easier to explain to modern players why their super-unique character with the long blah-de-blah backstory - at 0 XP! - falls under the large category of #NotAtMyTable.

Take female dwarves.  Seriously.  Take them.  While you're at it, take any dwarf that has a separate class modifier.  They don't need those, they have a class already.  It's dwarf.

Using B/X as the starting point means race as class.  Which isn't to say players have no choice in the matter.  They can play a sword dwarf or an axe dwarf or even a hammer dwarf.  See?  Lots of choices.  And I've got miniatures for all of them.  What I don't have is miniatures for thief-dwarves or cleric-dwarves or, god forbid, sorcerer-dwarves.  If you play a dwarf yo get enough boosts that you don't need any more of them from having a separate class.  Take your doubled chances to find traps and shifting walls and be happy with them.

Using B/X as the starting point also means that dwarves have dark brown skin and three hair colors: brown, black, and gray.  You'll see this reflected in my painted miniatures.

Pictured: Every 15mm female dwarf figure I could find.
Feel free to prove me wrong.
Using B/X as the starting point also also means that all dwarves have beards.  That tells me that all dwarven adventurers are males.  That's probably true in large part because dwarves are practical (again, canon written in the sacred text as recorded by the prophet Moldvay).  They wouldn't dare squander the lives of their precious womenfolk on such silly things as looting tombs, crawling through deep holes, and plundering long lost ruins.

As I re-read the works of Appendix N, I'm even leaning towards a much more mythic folklore interpretation of dwarves as literal people of the earth, maggots that infest the earth until invested with the gift of reason by way of contact with holy relics or some such excuse that fits better with a semi-Christian background.

Either way, dwarven players have ten choices for representation, because ten dwarves is how many you get in a pack of Ral Partha Europe's Blighthaven range.  Heck, even if I wanted a female dwarf figure, I can't find any on the market in 15mm.  So don't blame me - blame capitalism.

Monday, October 24, 2016


With apologies to Splintered Light...

The deeper levels of Castle Meatgrinder are populated by the slimiest critters in the dungeon.  Oozes, slugs, and all sorts of wet nasties - you can't get slimier than actual slimes, after all.  Naturally, these fellows are perfectly at home in the dank corners of the dungeon.

Rumor has it that these particular dungeon denizens have a particular hatred for moneylenders and female adventurers, but some say those are bedtimes stories designed to scare the gullible.

Whatever the truth about these particular monsters, they are very rare.  

As mentioned above, you can get this 13 toadman warband from Splintered Light for just $10 USD.  They have a ton of character, are quick to paint, and provide some variety to a dungeon beyond the everyday kobold/goblin/orc/ogre progression.  While they don't look much tougher than your standard orc warband, what with the lack of armor and cheap spears, I'm planning on building some pools and ponds that they can use for easy movement and ambuscades.  Fights with surprise attackers with little staying power make for a different sort of encounter than stand-up fights against armored hog faces.  These surprising chaps should keep the players on their toes, and give them a healthy respect for any pools and wells they encounter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Religion: Let's Not Make a Big Thing Of It

I am increasingly leaning towards using Christianity as the default religion of the world of Castle Meatgrinder.

For one thing, this is in keeping with the Appendix N style of literature that my own worlds favor.  Books like "The Dragon and the George" and "Three Hearts and Three Lions" managed to successfully blend stories of the fantastic with the Gospel Truth, so why not my own table?

Some say it raises difficult questions, but I say that it doesn't have to.  Don't overthink things.  You're a holy warrior in a fantasy land that has some connection to medieval Europe, and you serve a church that uses the cross and Christian iconography.  You fight the spawn of the devil in all its various forms.  Call them demons, call them children of Chaos, call them Al, it doesn't really matter.

The important thing is that you are a holy warrior fighting evil.  If that means you utilize a fantasy version of Christianity that isn't strictly accurate, so be it.  We use a fantasy version economics and biology that isn't strictly accurate, too.  They are close enough for tabletop, and so long as your warrior can adhere to a Christian worldview that's close enough for the tabletop, so be it.

Angels in the dungeon
You've going to see this aesthetic play out in some of the terrain pieces of Castle Meatgrinder, and you're going to see more of it in the shield designs of some upcoming heroes.  Consider this your trigger warning.

If my DM style makes a player uncomfortable, then they have the same option as they do when my culinary style makes them uncomfortable: push away form the table and find another DM or cook.  No hard feelings.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dicks Out

As a certifiable L-7 square, I don't typically work blue, but the title to this post is the traditional cry of those who seek to remember a gentle inspirational giant taken from us too soon.

Yeah, this is still the internet. 

These cave apes are a special figure that comes in six identical poses.  I bent a couple arms, and used different paint schemes to add a bit of variety.  The sharp eyed among you will note the traditional Barsoomian white ape, as well as your standard cave apes, and one bright orange fellow who might be half-orangutan and might have a different trick up his massive, hairy old sleeve for the next crew to delve the depths of Castle Meatgrinder.

Oh yeah, we're back.  I've got a slew of hero figures loaded in the queue, and have a stack of Pepe figures on the painting table right now.  The rest of the year will see a little more action around here, and why not?  The holidays are always such a slow, restful time.  *tugs collar*

Friday, October 14, 2016

Quick Hit: Kid Stuff

The 11 year old has a little extra time on her hands this week, so she decided the miniature collection needed a few additions.  Here, a cleaner bot (left) has been interrupted by a tentacular blue alien (right).  Proud poppa is proud.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Wargaming Report: One Page Rules

For the first time in quite a while, a two-hour window of opportunity presented itself.  The boy wasn't interested in a little light gaming, but his 11 year old sister was.  After a few minutes reviewing Osprey's trusty Black Ops rules, her eyes started to glaze over, so we shifted gears and ripped a copy of Warstuff from the One Page Rules website.

It took us about five minutes to bang out two different 150 point forces, ten minutes to go over the rules, and then we enjoyed a pair of thirty minute games.  She used the armored Prang, and I had a larger force of less capable Octos.
Click for more detail.  The melee near the yellow garage door
didn't go well for the weaker Octo.
Warstuff is pretty much as simple as a wargame can get and still be considered a wargame.  It's a one-stat plus skills system with that one stat used for shooting, fighting, and resisting wounds.  The skills can influence that stat for different parts of the game, and the skill set is limited enough to be learned within the first turn of the game.

Our forces were evenly matched, and thrown together with little thought, but it made for nice, light game.  This is just the sort of game that I've been looking for, given that my normal mode of play is essentially solo-play with the added sandbag of helping my young opponent understand the rudiments of strategy and tactics.  Much as I'd love something deeper and more complex, you really do need an opponent who can help you remember the fiddly bits and rule exceptions that more rigorous rulesets demand.
The melee to the front of the ad went a little better.  The
brave leader hiding behind the sign failed the first rout check
in this game, and the Octos fled at the first check.

The one downside from my perspective is that most of the rules on the site are heavily tied to the Warhammer 40k universe.  While I know enough about the background to kludge something together after a while, for a quick dirty fight this basic system worked better for us.  For my money (he said, jokingly, referring to a set of free rule systems), a purely generic ruleset would be a step in the right direction.  Warstuff, designed for toys and army men and any little bits and pieces you have lying around the toybox, is the only generic set on the site, and is easier to play straight off the printer.

In the final analysis, my daughter enjoyed the game enough to want to sit down and draw up some proper forces, and we're comfortable enough to run 300 point battles, which should give us enough the ability to play with up to 10 figures on a side, and to experiment with a wider skillset than Leader, Shooter, Armor.