Monday, July 27, 2020

Eye Candy

Not a lot to say here.  I snatched a bunch of screencaps from recent videos posted up at the YouTube channel, Joy of Wargaming.  Full battle reports are available there.  For those who lack the patience for such things, here's a brief rundown of the action so far, with plenty of photos for your entertainment and inspiration.  

We're using Void Pirates for these, with a heavy dose of Five Parsecs for inspiration.

The crew of the Blackraven, led by Cobalt-15 are hot on the trail of a magic space baby.  If they can deliver it to Big Guv, their spotty records will be swept clean.  In the second battle, they have to search a small psychic isolationist dwarf compound for on L. Ron Sluggard, a missionary from the Discordian Church seeking to convert the dwarves away from Space Thor.
Marion hacks an ATM and discovers that L. Ron Sluggard is in the building to the left, which forces a smash-and-grab on the part of the party's Shootist.
 The psychic dwarves were unable to do much to stop the crew who escaped without injury.
Bracing the man, he tells them that they need to hit up a Shrineworld and seek the location of the magic space baby within an oracular woods.
 He didn't tell them about the feral yelizard guardians...
Luckily for the crew, Marion identified the shrine in the first wood searched.  Unluckily for the crew, the yelizards proved tougher than your average alien bear.  They managed to drop all three men of the quartet.
Leaving Marion to abscond with the information gleaned from the shrine and the menfolk nursing a variety of wounds.
Little does Cobalt-15 know, Marion could not resist the temptation to ask the shrine about something more important than some magic space baby - she now knows the location of her One True Love!

Hey, don't look at me!  Blame Nordic Weasel, it was their character creation charts that rolled up Marion's motivation as "Looking for Love in All the Orbital Places".

Next up, the crew returns to L. Ron Sluggard's house to get him the business for sending them on a wild goose chase.  But nothing is ever easy in this fallen universe, and they have to beat a band of slavers to the punch if they want to squeeze another red herring out of the fat bastard.
Things are getting a little more complicated than your average wargame campaign, and that's just the way we like it around Chez Abox.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thoughts on Void Pirates

Now that I've had a chance to play a few games with this ruleset, I can give you a much better idea of what they are and how they play.

This isn't a murder mystery, so lemme cut right to the chase.

I really like them.

Figures pretty have just five stats and half the equipment effects just bump those stats, making it easy to jump in, calculate your dude, and get started playing.  All of the abilities work seamlessly within the GoalSystem framework, and what I thought would be a mess when reading Goalsystem Delves has really opened up a world of possibilities. 

Perhaps its that Void Pirates is a lot more streamlined, with considerably fewer options straight out of the gate that helped me understand how these rules are meant to be used.  Whatever the reason, I can say now that they are really smooth.  The opposed rolls and counting successes uses more dice than I normally prefer, but everything clicks along at a good pace regardless.  With alternating actions and opposed rolls, there's never a dull moment, so the game just clips right along.

Ten to twelve figures is manageable by one player, but only just.  These would really shine at the 4-7 level, with two players keeping each other honest and reminding each other of the more obscure rules.  As primarily a solo wargamer, I find myself missing a few rules here and there and forgetting some abilities when they come up.  I don't think I've ever used a Boost (a one time/game +1D bump) properly, for example.  That's more function of one guy trying to do too much, and trying to keep a running patois going to entertain the masses, though.  It's not a reflection on the rules.

While the options at character creation are fairly limited, they are broad enough to allow for considerable invention on the part of clever players.  For example, there is a "Two Gun" ability that affects ranged combat and survival.  I called it "Iron Fists" and applied it to melee attacks and survival.  It made sense for a robot to have that ability, and it works fairly well in practice.  The game is robust enough for such tinkering without wrecking balance issues.

And the point cost system, though basic, is dead on.  So far every game I've played has been won by the team with the most points on the board.  Some of that is due to die rolls, but with three games under my belt, it's impressive how strongly points correlate with victory.  If there are game-breakers in the system, I've yet to find them.

Do give them a look if you're interested in some light sci-fi skirmish.  They don't take themselves too seriously, they play fast, and would be a great addition to any collection.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Alternative Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure Armies Figures

Here's a quick line-up of a nice batch of pulp sci-fi figures, ready for the table.

Including a few civilian types, to help flesh out the space station. Still trying to work out the best way to grab photos using my cell phone.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Wizard Funk 2

Intrigued by the promise of a return to those halcyon days of the late-70s when I was too young to participate in zine culture, I threw five bucks at DiceBro for a hard copy of Wizard Funk 2.  And boy howdy did I get exactly what was promised - a throwback to the oldest school of D&D social media.

This fun little zine contains two full dungeons, one of which is great and one which is terrible.  Stick a pin in that, we'll circle back to it later.

In addition to the two dungeons, this little package contains a nice gaming rant by the DiceBro, an interview with an old TSR employee, and a couple of brief ingredients you can throw into your own campaign.  The riddle selection is nice for those times you want to stretch your players' gray matter with something other than combat, and the reverse centaur monster (with a horse head and forelimbs sprouting from a human neck) is suitably weird and creative enough to throw at your players to keep them guessing.

The art is exactly what I had hoped for.

It's grungy line art that shows a lot more enthusiasm for the material than technical skill.  Spread throughout the book, it adds just the right kind of do-it-yourself feel to the proceedings, and reminds the reader that you don't have to be slick with a light pen and digital processing to evoke a sense of grim and desperate wonder and alieness.

Erol Otus was the master at this, and the art in Wizard Funk owes much to the master's influence.

Now let us turn our gaze back to the dungeons.  The big one is a multi-level bugbear infested castle run by a man named Garth.  The players have been teleported to the front porch and have to find a way to teleport themselves back home.  It looks like this is a continuation of an adventure from the first issue, which I do not have, but it could be easily dropped into any campaign as a nice one-shot fetch quest.  The maps are rough, but Jaquayed enough to allow for some scouting and tactical movement.  The descriptions are mercifully brief, with a kitchen earning two short sentences - all that any half decent DM needs to flesh things out.

It's the second dungeon, The Dungeons of Neraz, where the quality takes a nosedive.  This image should give you an idea of the gauntlet style of dungeon you get.

Where are the forks?  The decisions?

This dungeon reminds one of the old TSR tournament modules, which were designed for one-off convention play, and worked within that framework just fine.  When used at a normal table, they feel like a modern day WotC railroad, and Neraz's dungeons read with the same feel.  DiceBro can do better than this, I can feel it.

In the final analysis, the price point was perfect.  Five bucks is perfect for a fun and nostalgic look at a more informal and free-wheeling time of tabletop role-playing.  Dedicated D&D players can get a lot out of this, but as more of a wargamer, it's just a fun read to me.  An object lesson in how, and how not to, design dungeons.

If this is the sort of DIY stuff you like, you'll appreciate Wizard Funk, warts and all.  And you'll definitely want to keep an eye out for the promised third issue.

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Heavy Dose of 15mm Sci-Fi Fun

The Alternative-Armies great big sci-fi-stravaganza has added a whole lot of fun to my collection.  Before, I had at least one of everything that I needed.  Now, I've got all sorts of options, and if my Void Pirate early plays are any indication, they will be put to good use.  Let's kick off the night's entertainment with some entertainers.

And then add a beefy squad of high-tech savages to the mix.  That mad lad in the center is a Draccian 28mm figure, but he's a close enough match to the rest of the boy-o's that we'll call him a nob of sorts - the biggest of these boys just keep on growing until they are dead.

And then add some ladies to the fun.  Space witch, heavy lass, and Missus Blade.

A proud couple of legal-beagles who are aren't to defend their kith and kin when the slavering hordes show up on their doostep.

And a half-dozen general heroic types including a couple of techies and some dashing square-jawed chads ready to leap into action, gun frst.  Love these Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers throwbacks.  They just make me want to run a wholesome good fight between the American way of freedom and burgers and the perfidious alien way of collectivism and soccer.

Don't be surprised if you see a few of these guys show up on The Joy of Wargaming.  They are too much fun to spend a lot of time in storage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Void Pirates Roster

After an interesting experience learning about stat priorities in Void Pirates I took a swing through the wilds of the net for a decent character roster and found a whole lot of nothing.

So I built one myself, and now you have one too!

It's not great, but it's got it where it counts. A better designer than me could pretty this up a lot.  On the other hand, it'll work a lot better than the ransom note style that I've been using.

And unHappy Bastille, day!

Viva La Roi!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Adventures of the Blackraven

The first game of the Adventures of the Blackraven has come and gone.

In this project, I used the campaign tables from Five Parsecs from Home to generate the quartet of space faring ne'er-do-wells plying the shipping and smuggling routes way out on the fringes.  Once I had personalities and rough characteristics done, I shifted over to Void Pirates  built out a 55 point crew from there.

From right to left we've got:
  • Cobalt-15, a sentient warbot AWOL from the Unity military forces
  • Marian, his technician assistnt, a Reclaimer tech who helped him escape with the Blackraven, and who just wants to find her true love
  •  Rusty, an escaped slave from the rust mines who takes any off-book odd-job to keep his belly full.  He is the team's melee specialist.
  • Lt. Dayne, an arrogant military brat and shooting specialist who is thoroughly unlikable, but too good as his job for Cobalt to turn down.
The preliminary fun presents Cobalt and Co. strong-armed by a Unity agent into finding the most important alien baby in the universe.  He hits up the Tortugastra, a little space station out on the Fringe, to meet a contact, and discovers that a mercenary unit out of the Pelagic system has beat him to the literal punch.  After some heated words, a fight breaks out in the quiet morning halls.

After a furious fight in the halls, curiously absent of security forces most likely due to the Pelagics buying them off, Cobalt-15 managed to put all of the mercs on the floor with only Rusty taking it on the chin.  The former slave/miner took a bad wound and will be lame and gumpy for the next scenario.  On the upshot, Cobalt got the info he needed and the next mission will determine whether he gets closer to finding the important magic alien baby...

And whether or not he should turn the magic alien baby over to the Unity once he does.

Expect a live-play video to go live over at the Joy of Wargaming on July 21st!  We're up to 40 subscribers already, which has been very gratifying - thanks to all of you who have jumped on board over the last few weeks.  It's been a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Wargaming Goulash

Going to start up a new mini-campaign using the excellent "Void Pirates" as the framework, then flesh things out with the "Five Parsecs From Home" flavor-book.

My first stab at GoalSystem might be a little rough, so I've decided to run a four man scoundrel crew against a look mob with a couple regular Joe bosses.  From reading VP and watching a few vids by the authors, it looks like a smooth system where everything fits neatly into place without a host of edge case rules to trip a guy up.  But with so many different options, the prospect of tracking eight different characters and a look swarm has me eagerly anticipating the challenge.

If any of you have any GoalSystem advice...I'm all ears!

Too late for this little guy - his sword swap won't be ready in time for the fray - but his Khurasan shark-bros have the shindig on their dance card.  I clipped the sword off a donor Akarr melee specialist to give this sniper's second something more proactive to do in my games.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Paladin in Sloretown

For the record, that was my uber-powered Paladin trashing the tracks of the Jeffro Pacific Express Freight to Funkytown.

Before we get into the view from the player side of the screen, a confession: I used this generator to roll up a fighter type and got the stats for a Paladin on the first try.  That was a mistake.  After the session, I rolled up a few more characters with it and discovered to my horror that it uses a modified Method III to guarantee a fighter's stats.  A modified Method III is not Method III, as handed down from the pen of Mister Gygax.

I should have known better.

My only solace is that, due to logistical difficulties, this game was a one-off for me.

And what a one-off it was.

My paladin, Aggros DeLas Aled, tagged along because his master caught him "with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar."

A minor point to add, because it didn't come up again in the session, Aggros isn't the brightest guy and when he said "proverbial" he really meant "literal".  The degenerates in the party assumed he was attempting to atone for the sin of lust when in fact he was atoning for the sin of indulging in carbs during his physique cutting season.

And here we see the value of old school play.  "I was told to help you by my superiors," is a perfectly valid excuse for the wrong kind of character to have to work with a group for which he is ill-suited.  Even a golden souled Paladin understand the value of hierarchy, and can put a willingness to obey the orders of the head of his order above his own personal desires.  That allows him to play along while maintaining a clean conscience.

And as a demonstration of my trust for the dice, consider the following exchange:

DM: The naked demon woman lands next to the whore.
Aggros: I tackle her.
DM:  The demon or the whore?
Aggros:  Hang on.  *rolls dice*  The demon.

Now what, you might ask, would you have done had the dice told Aggros to tackle the whore instead?

Rolled with it.  Aggros would have shielded her from the rain of death about to be unleashed by bow-armed snipers placed at key positions around the area.  He would have cured diseases on her and offered to escort her to the nearest nunnery to take up the habit and leave Trollopolis in the rearview mirror forever.  With some stabbity stabbity of the demonette along the way, naturally.

That also would have made a fine story.  As it happened, it was not the story that fate or chance or luck had in mind that night.

And that's okay.

Because we rocked that demon-lady hard, trussed her up, and delivered her to Elric the King who probably won't make of her a queen to sit by his side until Stormbringer drinks her soul.