Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A-Dungeonin' and A-Dragonin'

As a follow-up to last week's post, I managed to get A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry to the table last night.

To recap: the intent was to try and run an AD&D module using the current D&D rules. The purpose of this was to show off the simplicity and flexibility of the current system, and to prove to myself that it could easily be done. I define "easily" as: the DM preparing the module as s/he would normally, making up the DCs on the fly (but adhering to the DC scales listed in the rulebook), and subbing out monsters as necessary, as AD&D stat blocks don't exactly transfer over. Pretty much, I wanted to show that the most work one would have to put into running an AD&D module for D&D would be finding the current rules for the monsters within.

Overall, it worked well. I was playing with my usual RPG group, which is made up of four other seasoned gamers, with more than 60 years of gaming experience between us. They'd never played the current version of D&D, and I'd say by the end of it they were impressed, which is another goal I had (the sneaky task of trying to convert my closest gaming friends to my favorite version of D&D yet). They even liked the module, though I had some complaints:

Too Long. I was under the impression that this adventure was written to fall in line with the other tournament modules, but without being a tournament module itself. Whether I was wrong in that assumption or not, it didn't fit within the four hours I wanted it to. I had to rush the ending. One member of my group suggested that I cut some rooms out of the dungeon, as tournament modules were written with the intent to see how far a party might get through the dungeon, rather than make an adventure that gives everyone the experience of an adventure from start to finish (the players also could've ended the adventure in half the time if they went to the guard house instead of into the mine). I think this works well within a tournament setting, but like I said last post, it's just not something I want to roll out for the session I'm going to be running at the games shop.

Too much hackin' 'n' slashin'. I'm not one of those gamers that turns their nose up at a good ole hack 'n' slash adventure, but there wasn't much to go on here other than sword swingin' and arrow loosin'. One of the players was playing a preacher-type cleric, who tried to convert some goblins to his faith, and that was fun to role-play, but another group (especially one made up of strangers, and therefore less-likely to go as far outside the box as my player did) might just as easily start an encounter with the goblins instead.

Not weird enough. If I'm going to run an AD&D-style adventure, I want it to be full of Appendix N nonsense, and craziness. I want eccentric wizards beseeching foul gods for power, and strange groups of monsters committing even stranger acts of terror upon small medieval towns. I guess DCC has spoiled me in that regard, by doing an amazing job of capturing the proto-D&D feel that's been bred out of the game (or recessed).

All-in-all, I've proven it can be done; you can run an AD&D module for D&D with only some monster stat blocks on hand, a tiny bit more work, and some improvisational skills (and the confidence to stand by what you change). I just now need to find a more suitable module.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Slave to the Game

I'm back!

Oh. These balloons are all deflated... Ah well.

This post is about the new D&D, and a game I'm prepping, so if you wanna read about that just skip to the text under the bold, linked, title further down. If you wanna read a bunch of boring stuff about how I've been doing nothing in the last six-and-a-half months, then read on!

So what have I been up to? Well, to be perfectly frank, not writing. I've hit a bit of a phase lately where all I want to do is watch police procedurals on Netflix (if you've never watched Twin Peaks, then you definitely should, and if you don't like Twin Peaks then I really can't do anything for you. Sorry), and play Hearthstone (I can't stand World of WarCraft, but this game is so good). I'm trying to fight my way out of this slump, which is really the only way to do it. Slumps like this can't be beat with time alone. I just regret that it's taken me this long. So what's worth writing about so much that I dusted off this old blog?

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition 

I'm not going to write a whole review here (or maybe even at all), but I have to say this this is quite possibly my favorite version of D&D yet. The rules are so simple to grasp, which is really what I want these days. I just finished a two-and-a-half year long Pathfinder campaign, and I can honestly say that while I'm still willing to play Pathfinder and D&D3, my days of DMing it are over, over, over. It's just too damn complex, and too damn high-powered.

I'm sure D&D will expand the game to a point where characters can turn invisible at will, and remain so forever, or that rangers will be able to fire five different magical arrows at once, but from what I gather these will be, mercifully, optional. The core of the game is an intuitive sword-and-sorcery system, that one will be able to season to taste. I, personally, will be taking a hard look at the rules for feats, before I agree to allow their use at my table, and while I love, love, love miniatures, I'm not running out the door to include their use either.

It's also a bit biased of myself to say that I'm a big fan of DM agency (fancy-schmancy way of saying the DM is always right and can veto stuff), but this edition seems to lean more towards that than 3rd or 4th edition, without going all the way to tyranny. I mean, it's shitty when you have a terrible DM and s/he's surrounding you with nothics like you're at some sort of nothic rave (really, Carmin?), or violating the "yes, and..." rule of improv every encounter, but for the most part, I like the DM to not be constrained by the rules. Whether I was valid in feeling that Pathfinder constrained me or not, it's just how I felt, and how I don't feel now with D&D.

So what next? I'll be running an event at the shop I work at soon that will involve D&D, and I've been wondering what adventure I'll run. Seeing as how Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) launched me on the classic RPG kick that I've been riding high for the last little while, I thought I'd run an old AD&D module and see how well it converts to the new game. I'm betting my reputation as a world-class DM (and a handsome one at that) that it'll run like a dream. 

I'd be a fool not to give it a test-run, though. To that effect I'll be hosting a game next week to give it a dry run. It'll involve four players who have yet to play the new D&D so it'll be the perfect arena to work out the kinks. The adventure will be A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry.

You may be grasping your computer monitor and shaking it with fury. "You simp!" you scream, spittle turning your Linux display into a corona of prismatic light. "A0 is not part of the original 'Against the Slave Lords' arc, but a mere imitator!" Well now, settle down. Sure, it's an AD&D module written in 2013 (and a prequel at that), but it's written by Skip Williams who used to work at TSR in the late '70s, and who's written many D&D modules in the past and so I have the utmost confidence that this adventure will provide the AD&D experience I desire. Besides, unlike the other A-Series modules, this one isn't designed to be a tournament module. I don't have anything against tournament modules, it's just not something I want to run at this moment. Besides, I already bought the damn re-print, and so far I've run neither Jack nor Squat of it.

So what's the battle plan? I'm going to run the adventure as it's displayed in the book, and sub in the monster stats from the new game (which can be found in the Starter Box, and the last D&D Next playtest document). That's it! If anything strange comes up during the game I will take notes, and adjust as I see fit. Great Gygax! How easy does that sound? No more templates or charts that I have to adjust to ensure game balance (a nebulous term for RPGs if I've ever heard one). I'm free, folks! I'm free.

I'll let y'all know how it goes next week.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Tale of One Gamer: My First Ten Bleakswords

My first ten Dark Elf Bleakswords are finished! It's only taken me three months, too! Well, let's be honest, three months of a bunch of sessions spread out. As we'll see from my time breakdown at the bottom of this article, it actually hasn't taken that long. I managed to do these ten figures in only six sessions (one of which I mostly spent building a Cauldron of Blood, which I have included in today's breakdown but will discuss in a future article in this series).

I'm notoriously bad at blogging regularly (one thing I hope to change in the new year), so I've actually managed to sit down three times since my last post and do some hardcore painting. After I finished the silvery metals last article, I moved onto the purples.

I painted a base of Naggaroth Night, followed by a Druchii Violet wash. After the wash was dry I did a Xereus Purple/Naggaroth Night mix as a first highlight, then a Xereus Purple/Genestealer Purple mix for the final highlight. Though in the picture shown above, I don't think I completed the final highlight at the time.

The skin was done using Reaper's paints. They have a fabulous little line of paints that I like to dip into every now and then. They're especially cool because they make use of what they call "triads," which Citadel borrowed for their current line of paints. The "triads" are three paints that work with one another to create a good shade, base, and highlight combination. This one was the "Dark Elf Triad" which consisted of Dark Elf Shadow, Dark Elf Skin, and Dark Elf Highlight (in that order. Though I did a Druchii Violet wash after I painted on Dark Elf Skin that I won't be repeating further... Too dark). I did this combination in the same sort of format as the purples—that is, mixing them together instead of painting a brighter color overtop. I don't have a hard-and-fast ratio for this; I simply just mix until it looks right, then self-correct if it doesn't.

The golds were next and they were super satisfying to paint as always. They were done with a Balthasar Gold base, then a complete cover-up of Gehenna's Gold. No gold I've used covers too well except for Balthasar Gold which I don't like as a color. That's why I cover it right up again with Gehenna's Gold. I did an Agrax Earthshade wash then an Auric Armour Gold highlight without mixing. I don't like mixing metallic paints.

Now the figures are practically finished (it's what I love about the new Dark Elf kits, they're not overly complex). I did some of the little bits around them such as the black skirts and shoes (Abaddon Black sans any highlights (shh! No one will ever notice)), and the little red trim around their chainmail skirts (Khorne Red base, Carroburg Crimson wash, Khorne Red/Wild Rider Red highlight, then a little bit of Wild Rider Red on the tips and edges).

The fun part is their hair. I like painting hair because it brings these models together and contrasts well with their black skin. Also the hair makes it look like I'm intentionally painting them as drow, and not just leaving the skin deep in their helmets dark to cut corners. The hair was a Fenrisian Grey basecoat, followed by a straight layer of White Scar.

The only thing left was to paint the eyes (White Scar, then Abaddon Black pupils), and the little belt straps that they have hanging (Doombull Brown basecoat, with a straight Tuskgor Fur highlight on the edges of the belts). I also painted the banner pole a Dryad Bark base followed by a Dryad Bark/Steel Legion Drab highlight.

I tidied up the bases, glued some Burnt Grass static grass flock from Woodland Scenics on some parts using P.V.A. glue, and then stuck one of the decals that were included with the box on my standard. I didn't choose the symbol for any particular reason besides the fact that it matches the color of the banner's trim and it was thin and simple, so would look good on the thin banner.

A note on decals: One of the questions I get asked a lot as a hobby shop clerk is regarding the proper application of decals. I begin by cutting out the decal I want with an X-Acto blade and soaking it in water for about thirty seconds to a minute. You don't want to soak it too long, otherwise the decal will just separate and you might as well throw it out (though I'm such a decal pro that I've saved a couple of these). The shape you cut it in should be a square with enough room around the decal itself, so as to allow a pair of tweezers access to the piece without them touching the decal proper.

Just before I take it out of the water, I apply some Humbrol DecalFix to the area I want to apply the decal to. Then I use tweezers to pull the decal out, brush the decal onto the area I want, and gently dab the perimeter of the decal. While I'm doing this, I'm constantly re-adjusting the decal with my brush, as absorbing the water can cause the decal to shift.

At the time the completed regimental photo was taken the decal was still wet and I hadn't applied the second coat of the DecalFix, but after the water has dried off a little, I'll apply the aforementioned second coat of DecalFix. This takes off the edges of the decal, which often show through when everything's said and done. It also deals with some of the shine.

That's about it for this time. My next article will deal with the Cauldron of Blood I received for Christmas, and all the good stuff that came outta that!

Here's the breakdown for this entry:
Naggaroth Night - $5
Druchii Violet - $5
Xereus Purple - $5
Genestealer Purple - $5
Balthasar Gold - $5
Gehenna's Gold - $5
Agrax Earthshade - $5
Auric Armour Gold - $5
Abbadon Black - $5
White Scar - $5
Fenrisian Grey - $5
Dryad Bark - $5
Tuskgor Fur - $5
Steel Legion Drab - $5
Doombull Brown - $5
Khorne Red - $5
Wild Rider Red - $5
Carroburg Crimson - $5
Dark Elf Shadow - $4
Dark Elf Skin - $4
Dark Elf Highlight - $4
Humbrol DecalFix - $6.99
P.V.A. Glue - $10 (which I forgot to add to last entry's breakdown, so I'll add it here)
Burnt Grass Static Grass Flock - $12.99
Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine - $90
Citadel Under-Empire Basing Kit - $40

As always, please patronize your local brick-and-mortar hobby shop before hitting the web for supplies and models.

Time spent since last update: 7h 20min
Total time spent: 9h 57min
Money spent since last update: $130 ($131.98)
Total money spent: $245.49 ($299.93)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Tale of One Gamer: Initial Steps Both Forwards and Back

Hail readers!

Welcome back to this (hopefully) ongoing series wherein I embark upon the creation of a brand new army. With the Warhammer Armies book limply in my hands, I began to build the dark elf warriors box that I purchased alongside it. Initially, and with a background in spear-exclusive high elves, I began to clip out the Dreadspears from the sprue, intent on them being the vanguard for a mighty spearmen unit. I built, primed, and began painting the armor of these ten Dreadspears only to change tack somewhat.

Sprue for me, sprue for you (no sprue for you).

Close-up of Dreadspears.


One of the benefits to working at a games shop is the regular contact I come into with other gamers. I chatted with a few, and asked their opinions on which of the two core dark elf warrior builds were the most effective: the Dreadspears with their extra rank of attacks, or the Bleakswords, with their parry save. I should, at this point, say that there will be some Warhammer lingo thrown in here, and for the sake of brevity I'm not going to describe every special rule as I say it. If you don't know why a Bleaksword should get a parry save when a Dreadspear does not, then ask a friend.

I got about 55/45 opinion on Bleakswords vs. Dreadspears, most of which stemming from the opinion that because elves don't have the best armor save or toughness, an extra rank is nice, but ultimately a parry save is better. Really, it depends on what you want a big unit like that to do. Should they be the big block that rushes into a combat and anchors it while more deadly units slide around to its sides, or should the unit be the spearhead (excuse the pun) and take out as many of the enemy as possible before being taken out themselves? Dark elves have long been thought of as a glass cannon (putting out damage while not being able to take it in return), and the Dreadspears would definitely fit that bill.

So why did I spend a half hour clipping off the already-primed spears and cleaning the mold lines from a bunch of swords I just took from the sprue? Ultimately I decided that the parry save was a nice thing to have, and if I wanted a unit that could put out a ton of attacks I might want to go with the Corsairs, who not only have two hand weapons (thus giving them the same amount of attacks in two ranks as three ranks of Dreadspears) but have a sweet dragonhide cloak which gives them a 5+ scaly skin save (psst! They're also cheaper at $29.75 a box vs. $40 a box).

I talked to a gamer who suggested that I forgo dark elf warriors entirely and use, as my combat blocks, simply Witch Elves, Executioners, and Blackguard. While I no-doubt will include these things in my army, I do have a soft spot for the humble warrior of whatever army I'm playing. I don't think I've ever done an army that didn't include a basic soldier of some sort, even in the chaotic days of 4th/5th edition Warhammer where regiments were simply regiments and they made no distinction between the elites and the rank-and-file in terms of army construction beyond just including them in your percentage breakdown.

So, you'll notice these pictures change. They are now Bleakswords, and thus had to undergo a paint-on priming (which I'm always leery of) of their right arms (no left-handed warriors in MY army apparently) using Imperial Primer. Oh well. This was one of the things I knew would happen as I built this army slowly. I'll have more exposure to a change-of-mind, or outside opinions because of the pace at which I'm taking this project. It also didn't help that I haven't written an army list yet. I hope to get around to doing that today, and I'll write about it in a later post. I also plan on doing a breakdown of all the units in the army and giving my armchair opinions on them.

So, on to the painting:

For this session, I really only managed to get the bases and the silver finished. On my models, I always do the bases first, as it's messy and involves lots of drybrushing. I got a little excited and started with the silvery metals first, but after having to re-do their weaponry, I decided to approach this sensibly and start with the bases. I opened up my Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Underdark book to get some inspiration for Underdark bases. They all looked like stone (natch), but had this etherial glow to them. Also for inspiration, I used the old D&D: Chainmail book "Shadow of the Drow" wherein Jason Soles gives a painting guide to drow. He just used a black base with some grey and white highlights, which isn't enough for me (no disrespect to Jason Soles).

To begin with, at the suggestion of a friend, I stuck my command figures on scenic bases. This lets them "pop" and stand out (even more than they normally do). I went with the Ruins Bases from Micro Art Studio because they were the rockiest-looking bases at my hobby shop. I plan on doing this with every command section I have in the army. They come five bases to a pack, so I was able to have two left over. To do another command section I'll still have to get another pack, but then the third time I do this, it'll be "free" (in a sense). I'll even be able to stick any lords or heroes on these bases. I had to cut the bases off the command, though, as my friend's suggestion came after I had gone to the trouble of basing the figures normally. I had to hand prime these separately.

Scenic bases.

The command all regal-like.

A note on hand-priming: I dislike it, in general, though it often has its uses. Spray-on primer is initially expensive, but it gets the job done quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly. It's crappy for things like rebasing, or weapon-swaps after you've started painting, however. As I saw here, Imperial Primer got some use out of it. I'm not particularly worried about the quality of the prime-job, as the material I primed was resin and plastic, which are more porous materials, and allow for a better adherence of paint and primer. If this was pewter, I'd be more concerned. Though for pewter, I use paint-on primer to get into the gaps that the spray just wasn't able to get at. It works well-enough for this as the gaps don't see a lot of wear-and-tear the way the higher portions of a model do.

For the bases I went with a Mechanicus Standard Grey followed by a Nuln Oil wash then a drybrush of Dawnstone and Administratum Grey. I didn't bother to mix the paints together, as I also wanted a well-defined tone to the bases (though not as extreme as Jason Soles').

Bases done... For now. I'll end up sticking static grass on 'em and painting the rims black, no doubt. 

For the silvery metals, I began with a basecoat of Leadbelcher followed by my handy-dandy Nuln Oil wash. I then did a bit of a highlight with some Leadbelcher and Ironbreaker mix, followed by some Ironbreaker and Runefang Steel mix. I really like the dry paints for metallics especially, so I drybrushed some Necron Compound around the angular bits like the swords, and the chain mail. The chain mail, by the way, was done almost exclusively by drybrushing instead of painting on the steps above.

View of the metals.

More metals.

The metals finished on the whole regiment.

Another shot.

So here's this entry's breakdown (italics are items already owned):
Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves - $59.50
Battle Magic: Dark Elves - $7
Dark Elf Dreadspears/Darkshards/Bleakswords - $40
P3 Clippers - $15.99
Excel Set of Six Files - $14.99
Chaos Black Primer - $19.50
Excel Hobby Knife - $6.99
"Ruins" Scenic Bases from Micro Art Studios - $8.99
Plastruct Plastic Weld - $6.99
Gale Force 9 Hobby Round Fine Basing Grit - $5.50
Windsor-Newton Series 7 Brush #3 - $18.99
Citadel Fine Detail Brush - $7
Citadel Wash Brush - $10
Citadel Medium Drybrush - $7
Citadel Large Brush - $10
Imperial Primer - $5
Leadbelcher - $5
Ironbreaker - $5
Mechanicus Standard Grey - $5
Nuln Oil - $5
Dawnstone - $5
Administratum Grey - $5
Runefang Steel - $5
Necron Compound - $5

As always, please patronize your local brick-and-mortar hobby shop before hitting the web for supplies and models.

Time spent since last update: 2h 37min
Total time spent: 2h 37min
Money spent since last update: $115.49 ($167.95)
Total money spent: $115.49 ($167.95)

Remember: that the breakdown includes both stuff that I bought specifically for the army (like the Battle Magic cards accessory, and the scenic bases), and the stuff that an experienced hobbyist would already own (such as the paints and tools. I own almost every Citadel Colour paint). If you own nothing, add the number in brackets to the number not in brackets, or look at my breakdown and add the costs of things you don't already own.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Tale of One Gamer: Introduction

Hail readers!

I come bearing news of another one of my grand blog series. About twice a year or so I aim to bite off more than I can chew with some silly series of articles on a tournament, or an army building project, or a wind-up to some tournament or something, and rarely do these things ever come to fruition (and if they do they're often late and erratic to begin with). This time, however, I aim to be different.

That's right! I'm starting another series of articles on this blog. This time it'll be building a Warhammer army from start to finish. A massive undertaking to be sure. Now I've built many armies over the seventeen (or so) years I've been playing Warhammer, but never have I chronicled them. I want this to be special, and as such it has to be an army that I don't own ANY figures for. Again, not an easy task. Throughout all these years there are very few armies that I don't own at least one figure for:
+ Lizardmen
+ Tomb Kings
+ Dark Elves

Well as luck would have it, the dark elves are being released at the end of this week. Now I've always loved elves in fantasy settings (hell, even in sci-fi settings), and I've always been especially drawn to dark elves ever since I began playing Dungeons & Dragons and was introduced to the drow in the Forgotten Realms setting. It's surprising, really, given the facts, that I don't already have a dark elf army. So as I sat at my work looking at the new dark elf releases and wishing that my basic high elf infantry looked as good as these druchii did, the thought popped into my brain: "why not just do a dark elf army?"

There are many reasons, not the least of which is the promise I made to myself as I cleaned up my house and looked at my bank account this past week and declared that I shall never again build an army that required more than fifty figures. But today I sat and thought that maybe there was a strategic way to go about doing this. This way I can not only build a good-looking army that I've been wanting to do for years, and actually contribute something meaningful to this blog, but I can use this experience as an example of how to go about building an effective army efficiently and enthusiastically.

Oh, and I get to paint a drow army. That's right, my dark elves will have black skin and white hair, and worship spiders. "It's been done!" you cry. But really, I've only seen one in person, ever. Sure, there are probably a ton showcased online, but the beautiful thing about the Internet is that it collates data from all around the world. We're going to see everything everyone's done if we really look for it. If I wanted to do something that no one's ever done then I've got a lot more work ahead of me than just figuring out how to build a Warhammer army. Besides, I love drow.

Anyway, let's get to the meat of this project. As you could probably surmise from the title of this series, it's supposed to emulate the original Warhammer army-building article series that ran in White Dwarf Magazine for a brief period during the '90s. Except this time there's just me. As such, I will be following a similar format, except I'm going to be looser on the restrictions and run this more like a project than a contest. Here are the rules:

1. No set monthly budget: Trying to stick to a monthly budget like in the original White Dwarf article is impractical for most gamers, and doesn't take into account my goals. I want to show that building a miniatures wargaming army can be organic, and this way may prove to be the least-stressful method of building a miniatures gaming army. That said, I'm not going to drop a stack of money all at once. Sometimes I'll spend a lot, sometimes I'll spend a little. Sometimes I'll buy an entire unit in one month, sometimes it'll be spread over a couple. I also want to avoid having a mound of unpainted plastic staring me down and psyching me out.

2. The army will be at least 2500 points by the end: Many Warhammer tournaments I see have this points total as standard and I'd like to be able to play in one with this army when it's finished.

3. All-new models only: This just means that I'm not allowed to use any models I already have. This is supposed to be brand new, and while it may use older figures, they can't be any I already own. This shouldn't be a problem, as I don't have any dark elves at the moment.

4. No time limit: Again, this is more of a chronicle or a journal, than a contest. I'm horrendously terrible at contests, and am currently losing one at the moment. I'm aiming for a relaxed and low-stress army. I don't want to have to break plans with friends and family because I have to finish painting a hydra by my deadline or the Internet will be disappointed in me. Likewise, I don't want to have to eat ramen, or shop for X-Mass presents for my family at the dollar store because I needed to spend $200 on a unit of witch elves all at once.

5. Fully-Painted: I'm not bush league here... If it ain't painted, it ain't gettin' played with.

6. Army may be subject to change: How many times have I used the word "organic" in this post? A Warhammer army is supposed to be malleable. It's supposed to change over time as tastes do, or as the meta-game does. I'll be taking a look at the book and making a preliminary list, but because I work at a games shop that sees a lot of Warhammer players, and because I game regularly at a club that has many tournament gamers, I will be open to suggestion and revision (I guarantee you, I will not need to solicit any advice with these two venues being in my life). I'm hoping (like all gamers) that I won't make a "wrong" decision that costs me $150 and 150hrs worth of models I no longer need, but if so then them's the breaks.

7. I'll keep a log of time and money spent: We'll see how well the "time spent" tally goes, but I imagine the "money spent" tally will be pretty precise. "Time spent" will only include time spent modeling or painting the figures, and not planning or thinking about the army (I can do that anytime I want). "Money spent" will include a different section for money spent on supplies such as paint, brushes, and glue. I'm going to keep the "hobby money spent" separate (and in brackets) from the money spent on the models because some people might have all that stuff (I know I do) and only be interested in the army itself. I'm including the "hobby money spent" more for those who are thinking of getting into Warhammer, and because I've never really thought about it before, and it might be cool to figure out how much it would cost if I owned nothing. That way I can show how much it would cost for an experienced gamer to build a new army (ie, ignore the number in the brackets), and how much it would cost for a complete newbie to build an army (ie, add the number in the brackets to the number before the brackets).

So it all begins at the end of this week when I get a copy of Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves in my grubby mitts. I also ordered a box of Dreadspears/Darkshards/Bleakswords because I figure that if I don't get something to put together and paint right away, I'm going to go insane, or flake out (either one). Now, for the sake of ceremony, let's begin the time and dollars tallies (all currencies are in Canadian dollars):

Time spent since last update: 0hrs 0min
Total time spent: 0hrs 0min
Money spent since last update: $0 ($0)
Total money spent: $0 ($0)


Monday, August 26, 2013

Gen Con Day 4

Editor's Note: So this is late, huh? There are a couple reasons for this: I was tired on the last day, and thought "oh, I'll just post it tomorrow morning." Then, I realized that I probably wouldn't have the Internet on my last day, after all why would I pay for an Internet connection that I'll only use for an hour. Turns out they extended my Internet to the last day. Anyway, work and re-acclimatization to life on the West Coast got in the way of this long-awaited update.

On my last day here at the con I got up early to wait in line at the D&D area in the hopes of getting in on one last RPG. What luck! The line-up was a grand total of twelve people ahead of me. Unfortunately, they want my DCI/WPN/RPGA number. It's been years (pre-4th edition) since I've taken part in an RPGA event and I've, understandably, forgotten my RPGA number. The organizer tells me not to worry, they have a computer on which to look this stuff up. The problem is that the only Carotenuto in the system is some dude from Florida, or something. The lady looked down at me from the podium and shrugged. "You'll just have to sign up for a new number."

A new number? With a new card without the Red Wizard of Thay on it? A new number with a million digits instead of the handsome seven? Oh no, this won't do. Back to the line I went. I sat in that line wracking my brain as to what my number could be. I used to use it twice a month for years when I ran Living Greyhawk events for Strategies. Right before I was called in to go sit at my table (A1), I remembered!

Incorrectly, it turns out.

I was off by 2 digits. My last number should've been 2 not 0. Oh well... I didn't need any points, or perks, or whatever from the event anyway. It was fun without rewards.

So, D&D Next. It's good. Lately I've been drifting further and further towards simpler systems for RPGs. It began with the drift to Pathfinder from D&D4 (which I heartily enjoyed), and continues with my desire to simplify my game more and more.

I played a halfling rogue (Zanzibar), and it was our task to defend Candlekeep (in the Forgotten Realms) from cultists and a dragon. Rad! It was very well run. Each table had six players, and there were four tables that were grouped near each other. The actions of one table would have effects on the other tables as well.

What I liked about D&D Next (I really hope they change that name) was the lack of feats, and the overall power-level of the game. PCs in D&D4 were very survivable. Something I enjoy from Dungeon Crawl Classics is the overhanging mortality that permeates the game. It keeps things interesting and risky, and does get mitigated somewhat in the higher levels.

After D&D, I strolled over to my next event which was a Bolt Action game, which began early and without me. I shook my head and began to leave to find some other game to occupy my last four hours of the con with. I was okay with this, however. The game didn't look that interesting and I've hardly indulged the board game side of the hobby yet.

I meandered over to the  Fantasy Flight Games gaming area and managed to get a game in of Legends of Andor. The game was awesome, the demo person not so much. The guy literally (and yes, I'm using that right) fell asleep at the table. My natural shop clerk instincts took over and I finished us through the demo, which was a smooth and exciting co-operative game (it won the Kennerspiel des Jahres for this year). Man! I should volunteer to run demos for FFG next year, I've been demoing games for almost a decade on no sleep.

So with my last two hours I walked through the dealer's hall looking to see if I'd missed anything previously. I talked with some mid-west retailers about out-of-print gaming supplies, and now I have more lines floating out there in the never-ending quest to build my expansive gaming library.

So that's it! That's my Gen Con experience. I loved it. I couldn't believe how much fun it was to just be around people energized about the same things I was. I'd been to PAX Prime, and smaller conventions, but my passions had always lay in tabletop gaming, rather than video gaming, comics, or fan culture, and for me this was it. I'm definitely going next year (I already put some money aside), and I'm sure I'll manage to get even more games in, now that I understand the whole flow of the convention better. Who knows, I may even decide to run something...


P.S. Here's a link to the gaming-related photos.
P.P.S. Here's a link to the non-gaming-related photos.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gen Con Day 3

Whelp, the best four days in gaming are almost over, and boy could I do with a few more days. At least I found out what all the noise outside at night is about... Motorcycle convention.

Today was chock-full of non-gaming-related gaming activities. I started my day off bright and early with Lisa Stevens' seminar where she reminisces about her gaming career. Now I know that there are few people who are into the history of gaming as much as I am, but I still find it incredible that only 18 people were in that room. Anyway, Lisa Stevens has been a part of, and/or helped found, most of your favorite RPG companies. She helped found Lion Rampant and White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, and Paizo. Needless to say, her stories were really good.

Then I dashed off to see the Onyx Path seminar where they spoke about their upcoming schedule. It wasn't horrendously fascinating but I love White Wolf/Onyx Path (as every soul reading this blog knows) and so it was nice to hear about some new products. Here's a summary:

+ Every setting for nWoD is getting a rules update in the form of a "God-Machine"-style book and campaign.
+ Wraith 20th anniversary is a go!
+ Vampire: Dark Ages (as opposed to Dark Ages: Vampore) is getting a 20th anniversary treatment which will be a stand-alone product.
+ Every goddamn thing is getting at least one supplement. There will even be a book that has nine chapters for all nine nWoD settings (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, Promethian, Hunter, Geist, Mummy, and Demon).

That's all I can remember from that. Sorry if there are any Werewolf fans reading this, I tend to glaze over Werewolf.

Next I ran across the hall to go to Green Ronin's Dragon Age seminar. Now I know nothing about the video game, and I just picked the RPG up yesterday, so a lot of the seminar went over my head, but an interesting bit is that Green Ronin is going to debut their revised Age system next Gen con. Now this will exist independently from Dragon Age, but it will also be a revision of the rules. Pretty much, it gives them a "setting-neutral" system to work with. They'll have their own setting attached to it. I hope they still sell it in boxes.

Next I spent more dangerous (to my wallet) time in the dealer's room. There, I ran into Doug Kovacs and Scott Mathis and they invited me to another DCC game. Unfortunately, and embarrassingly, I forgot which hotel lobby it was to take place in. I ran around looking at all of them, but couldn't find anyone. I thought I saw one of the guys who was supposed to be playing in it just walking around so I assumed it didn't materialize. Oh well...

The night wasn't a total loss, though, I managed to catch "Five Year Mission's" set. They're a Star Trek-themed indie band from Indianapolis, and they're pretty rad! I walked away with a shirt and their sophomore album. I'll link to them when I'm in front of a computer.

Now, I'm in bed, ready to do some reading of Dragon Age and then go to bed. I know it's early, and I feel lame for not getting in some late-night gaming, but I figure I should at least attempt to start my day early enough for breakfast at least once this trip, no?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Gen Con Day 2

Huzzah! Another awkwardly-typed post from my Nook!

What happened today? Well, to begin, I over-sleept my alarm by a couple hours on account of the delicious flagons of dwarven ale I quaffed at the D&D party the night before. No matter, however, that was just some wiggle room I had before a BROM seminar I attended.

Now the BROM seminar was pretty technical from an art perspective (and an artist I am not), but it was really cool to hear him talk. BROM is one of my favorite artists of all time, and his clever (and amusing) panel was really a treat to hear. He's a big Norman Rockwell fan.

After that I hit the dealer's room again and did some purchasing of vintage D&D books. I bought a couple Mystara gazeteers and a Dark Sun supplement for AD&D (I guess I was all jazzed-up on BROM!) I also stopped by the Green Ronin booth and picked up the 1st Dragon Age boxed set. Holy shit is this a fantastic product! Not only do I approve of the box and the layout, but I gotta run this game

Whilst I was parting with my hard-earned coin, I received a text from Goodman Games. One of the people writing a supplement for Dungeon Crawl Classics was running a game. It was for his forthcoming product: Transylvanian Adventures. It's a "Hammer Horror"- the ed supplement wherein you adventure in the 19th century. Now I read an article about Gen Con saying that an attendee should never say no to any game offers, and so even though it would conflict with my White Wolf panel on the New World of Darkness, I decided to play. I definitely don't regret it.

The GM (or Judge) was the writer Scott Mathis (landofphantoms.blogspot.com) who was a very engaging and flexible GM. I'm glad I'm getting an opportunity to play RPGs with so many different GMs, because it's easy to get stuck in one kind of style, and I'm learning a lot from watching these GMs work and by interacting with them.

Anyway, I had to duck out 10 minutes early so I could make it to my Dark Age tournament, but I had a blast, and anyone reading this should check out Transylvanian Adventures on rpgnow.com when it's released in autumn.

Afterwards I rushed out to sign in for the Dark Age tournament and played in three of the four rounds (I got a bye on the final round). Though I lost every game, I did come close in two of them, and it was great to play some games against people I've only ever known on the Internet.

The Dark Age tournament wrapped up at midnight and for the last little bit of the evening I retired to my hotel room where I poured over today's acquisitions (and listened to what a Friday night in Indianapolis sounds like. Yeesh! I know this is a big racing town, but I guess the weekend's the time when all the civilians can bring out their loudest and fastest...).

Tomorrow is mostly panels with some Block War boardgaming thrown in. I'm hoping to find some more role-playing to get in on, and I bet just loitering around the D&D area will at least give me one opportunity.

Until tomorrow night...


P. S. If my boss is reading this, I'm already requesting next Gen Con off.

P. P. S. If any interested friends are reading this, I'm definitely not coming alone next year either. Start lookin' at flights.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gen Con Day 1

Day 1 of Gen Con under my belt as I lay on my hotel bed and awkwardly type out this post on my Nook.

Today I hit the dealer's hall in full-force, blowing through a lot of my "want list." I walked away with some Dungeon Crawl Classics modules, the new Dark Age rulebook and supplement ("Conflagration"), The God-Machine Chronicle from White Wolf/Onyx Path and, after waiting an hour-and-a-half in Catalyst Game Lab's line-up, Battletech: Alpha Strike.

But Gen Con's not only about putting more stress on my bookshelf; it's about playing games and going to events. Today I had a chance to try out the playtest rules for WW/OP's new World of Darkness game, Demon: the Descent. It was pit on by a demo team called "the Wrecking Crew" and was lots of fun. The system and setting really integrates the new "God-Machine" mythos that's at the center of this revision, and the guy running the demo was definitely a pro.

Afterwards, I had some relaxation time which I used to eat and head back to the dealer's room. This time, I was free of many of the lines that plagued the room before. I found it particularly amusing how short the line-up at Privateer Press' booth was. When the doors opened, it wrapped around other booths and out against the wall. This time I was able to casually walk in and grab the item I came there for.

In the evening I went to this beautiful theater across the street to the highest floor where Wizards of the Coast was putting on a dinner for Dungeons & Dragons. There were guests like Scott Kurtz (from the PvP and Table Titans webcomics), Troy Denning (co-creator of Dark Sun), R. A. Salvatore (of Drizzt fame) and all the D&D games designers.

I was going to troll the floor for some after-hours gaming, but instead I'll leave that for tomorrow. Tonight I have to sleep off some of those drinks from the D&D party.


P. S. Like I said in an earlier post, I can't upload my camera photos and I can only use Instagram when there's wi-fi. As such, my cellphone pictures should be up  (@carminlive on Twitter and 'steelrabbit' on Instagram) but those aren't all of my pictures! I'll maven to wait until I'm back in Vancouver to do my camera photos, unfortunately.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gen Con Preamble

Tomorrow (August 13th) I leave for Indianapolis, for America's largest tabletop gaming convention. Since I'm notoriously bad at updating this thing, I've determined to post at least one thing a day, even if it means just posting a list of things I've done.

Some hitches, however: I won't have a laptop with me, since my laptop is kaputt. I will have a tablet with me, so I can update this blog with words, but I'll have to find an inventive way to get pictures uploaded onto the blog since I'll be using a digital camera and not my phone (which is kinda so-so). At the very least I'll have some pictures to post on the 19th when I get back.

Also check out my Twitter feed (@carminlive). It should have more updates on it.

Do keep in mind though, that unlike many of my generation, pictures and tweets aren't my primary focus. I'm perfectly content to experience something and move on, keeping nothing but the memories imprinted on my grey matter (I don't really know how the brain works, by the way). I have to go out of my way to share my experiences with others, so don't be disappointed if my tweets amount to a total of two on one day.

See you stateside!