Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Sleeper has AWAKENED!


Earlier this month, Gale Force Nine, popular producer of board games and miniature wargaming rules and accessories released the following press release on their website:

BURBANK, CA – August 6, 2018 – Legendary Entertainment and Herbert Properties LLC have reached a multi-year licensing agreement with Gale Force Nine (GF9). The award-winning game publisher is now set to bring the beloved sci-fi franchise DUNE to the world of tabletop gaming.
“Gale Force Nine has consistently demonstrated a skill and passion for building successful tabletop game series alongside category leading partners and we are thrilled to announce this exciting addition to the Dune licensing program ,” said Jamie Kampel, Vice President of Licensing & Partnerships for Legendary. “Legendary looks forward to a fun and meaningful contribution to this revered legacy property.”
The agreement calls for Gale Force Nine to produce original tabletop games drawing from the full scope of the Dune franchise—spanning the many publications from Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson—along with multiple direct tie-ins with Legendary’s highly-anticipated film from director Denis Villeneuve.
“This is only the beginning of our big plans in tabletop for this captivating franchise,” says John-Paul Brisigotti, CEO of Gale Force Nine. “Dune is a rich and wonderful universe, and we expect to produce an equally expansive and inspired line of games for years to come.” 
The full range of tabletop games, including board and miniatures games are slated to hit the market just prior to Legendary’s theatrical release of DUNE in 2020. In addition, GF9 plans to align with other game companies on numerous categories and formats in the future.
I recall the long-defunct Last Unicorn Games, who had published a rather popular CCG based on the series, was to publish a Dune RPG in the 90s. The company was bought out by Wizards of the Coast and Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium was given a very limited (and, as I recall, expensive) release. It’d be interesting to see what GF9 does with it.... Wait a minute...

The full range of tabletop games, including board and miniatures games are slated to hit the market just prior to Legendary’s theatrical release of DUNE in 2020. (Emphasis added.)
Will this mean I’ll finally be able to command my own sietch of Freman warriors, rampaging across the cosmos to spread Muad’Dib's Holy Jihad?

Ya Hya Chouhada!



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!!!

For the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy James S. A.  Corey’s (aka Ty Frank and Daniel Abraham) epic science fiction series The Expanse in both print and TV formats. Earlier this year, I had heard that Green Ronin Publishing was going to create a RPG set in this action-packed universe, and they were going to run a Kickstarter for it sometime this year. Well, according to a recent post on Twitter, it looks like “sometime”is going to be this upcoming Monday!

From what Green Ronin has promised, the game will use a modified version of their AGE engine modified for the action-packed, hard sci-fi of The Expanse. So pump up the Juice, and fire up your Epstein Drives, beltalowdas.  Whatever you do, though, DON’T touch any brown goo.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Lovecraft E-Zine Interviews Joe Salvador

Last year I had the opportunity to help playtest Joe Salvador's Eldritch Tales, an upcoming White Box take on Lovecraftian horror role-playing published by Raven God Games. I can't really say much beyond that Joe has put a lot of work into this game and it promises to be hit in and out of the OSR community! Today, Acep Hale with The Lovecraft ezine, a blog dedicated to all things squamous and cyclopean, published an in-depth interview with Salvador about ET, it's inspirations, and what the future holds for his awesome new game.

Could a certain Lovecraftian Sword & Sorcery campaign setting originally intended for Sword & Wizardy find a landing pad for this game? Only the Great Old Ones know.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Rant: On "#DNDGate" and the sad culture of being a loudmouthed asshole.

Ugh, I take an unannounced year-plus-long hiatus from blogging and I come back to a political shit storm? OK, time to say something about it and alienate some readers.

From what I gathered, someone wants the tabletop RPG community to start its own version of the gamergate silliness in hopes of driving out the darkies. womenfolk, queer-mo-sexuals, and all those who threaten to emasculate the hobby by allowing them to play or avoiding treating them like garbage. Unfortunately, there appears to be more than a little support for this effort coming from some in the OSR community. This bullshit has got to cease.

I got into this hobby as a child, long before I was politically or socially aware. I embraced what would become the OSR because I thought many of the classic edition games deserved preservation and expansion. Unless it's somehow important to a scenario or campaign, political activism usually doesn't figure into any of my games.

However, if you really want to turn me off toward your group, all you need do is start screaming about "social justice warriors" and "political correctness." As a younger, stupider, man I was on the right-wing side of the political spectrum and I fell for the insane notion that scary left wing people (mostly in academia) and their brown-skinned, female, and LGBT minions where out to censor my red-blooded, conservative, racist, sexist, homophobic, jingoistic, theocratic, all-American beliefs. Of course, I didn't see myself as the raging bigot that I was; no bigot does. I thought I was defending freedom of speech from those fanatical Marxist tyrants who hated freedom, capitalism, Christianity, the traditional family, and "Western Culture" (which I would eventually figure out was a dog whistle for the elevation of Anglo-European culture at the expense of all others). As I grew older, I would slowly emerge from my provincial, lily-white, small-town Wisconsin upbringing and the College Republican bubble I took refuge in while at university and I'd start dealing face to face with the people and ideologies that I used to deride and fear. I found out two things: 1) I was horribly wrong about them, 2) I was behaving like a huge asshole.

There is a petulant and callous movement in 21st century America that doesn't seem to give a damn whom they abuse or hurt to preserve the facade of cultural superiority they're so afraid of losing. Showing empathy toward the historically disenfranchised is considered a weakness. Given how the Bible-thumping reactionaries treated our hobby back in the 80s, I would have hoped we'd be better than this. Sadly, this cancer has also infected geek culture. It's the same mentality who freak out about the amount of vaginas and melanin in the new Star Wars movies. It's the same bunch of perpetual frat boys who send threats of death and/or rape to feminist blogger's who complain about about how video games portray women or rant about sexual harassment policies at sci-fi conventions. For all their raving about "freedom of speech" and "the Free Market of Ideas," these are the same wannabe fascists who want to "make America great again."

I have non-white gaming friends. I have female gaming friends. I have LGBT gaming friends. Since I rather not alienate them, I will have nothing to do with the jerks who adorn their Twitter posts with "#DNDgate" without sarcasm. I don't want to play in their games. I don't want them at my table. If I had one, I refuse to serve them at my restaurant. There needs to be consequences for being an bigot, regardless what would-be spray-tanned Mussolini sitting the Oval Office. In turn, if they don't want me around, fine. Just take your hashtag and shove it.

Now, that's said and done, time to get back to our regularly unscheduled blogging. Where did I put those random tables for Lovecraftian dessert menus for my Mu campaign?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Photos: "Legion of the Petal Throne" Game At Gary Con

I had intended to get this out a lot sooner, but Real Life™ and ADD keeps getting in the way. Last month at Gary Con, Victor Raymond refereed a game of "Legion of the Petal Throne" where a Tsolyáni army faced off against a Yán Kóryani force. As an extra-added treat, the game was played using some of Prof. M.A.R. Barker's miniatures. While I wasn't able to observe the whole game (Victor told me that was a victory for Yán Kór), I did manage to snap the following photos.

Two mighty armies marshal their forces.

The armies prepare for battle. 

Yán Kór is on the right, Tsolyánu is on the left.

Yán Kóryani slingers. (I think.)

Yán Kóryani Medium Infantry, with Crossbows behind them.

Contact!

Hláka mercenaries harass the Tsolyáni center.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fauna of Mu

While the continent of Mu was once home to many strange eldritch beings that defy human comprehension, during its period of human habitation, the local ecology wasn't unlike most tropical regions and its natural fauna was quite mundane. Cattle, goats, swine and other familiar livestock are kept on Naacal farms. Exotic birds and monkeys squawk and chatter high in rainforest canopies while reptiles, frogs, and insects scurry along the floor. Fish, whales, and dolphins swim in Mu's warm coastal waters. For the most part, there are few animals that would have been unrecognizable to modern eyes.
Of course, being a prehistoric age where many forms of now-extinct animal life existed, there are a few note-worthy exceptions. Below, in White Box (there is a reason for this) stats, are a few examples of some of the long-vanished beasts that once dwelt in this doomed land.

Naacal Mammoth (Col'hun):

Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 12
Attacks: 1 Trunk (Id6+2), 2 Tusk Gore (2d6), Trample (2d6+2)
Special: None
Move: 12
HDE/XP 13/2300
Larger than modern elephants, these prehistoric pachyderms are far less hirsute than their contemporary tundra-dwelling cousins. Living in large herds, wild Col'hun live mainly in the equatorial jungles and savannahs. Domesticated for the great size, strength, and surprising degree of intelligence, the Col'hun are the Naacal's primary beast of burden. Even the smallest village keeps one or two of these animals to aid with heavy work such as clearing land. Merchants also use them to pull massive carts, laden with trade goods, across the length and breadth of the continent. Many Naacal armies fight from the backs of Col'hun fitted with barding and howdahs. When treated with kindness, a domestic Col'hun can be a loyal and gentle giant. When abused or threatened, they can be deadly, near unstoppable brute.

Terror Bird (Skal'los):


Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 2 Talons (Id6), 1 Beak (Id6+2)
Special: None Move: 18
HDE/XP 3/60
For the average Naacal, the most terrifying sound in the world is the screech of the dreaded Skal'los, a lingering species of Phorusrhacids or Terror Bird. Flocks of these giant flightless, meat-eating birds fearlessly prowl the jungles of Mu for prey—any prey. Using coordinated tactics and attacking with their massive, bone-cracking beak or kicking with their razor-sharp talons, these swift, agile birds can bring down an adult Col'hun if the opportunity arises. While their meat is inedible, the bright plumage of the males (the feathers of the female are shades of brown and gray) is prized by hunters. Also, if properly tamed and trained, they are large and strong enough for a human to ride and several Naacal kingdoms field elite units of Skal'los cavalry. Peasant levies have been known to break ranks and run when they see these armored warriors and their equally-deadly mounts charging at them.

Smilodon (Fra'zur):


Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 2 Claws (Id6), Bite (2D6)
Special: None
Move: 12
HDE/XP 8/800
Several species of the fabled Smilodon or "Saber-Toothed Tiger" (although, these animals were not closely related to modern felines) are another ferocious predator, feared throughout Mu. Some varieties, like modern tigers or panthers, live in the jungles, waiting in trees or cliffs to pounce upon unsuspecting prey. Other species live in the grasslands and mountainous region in prides like lions. Along with slashing attacks from their massive claws, their long incisors and powerful jaws make the Fra'zur an especially dangerous threat.

These are just some of the unique, prehistoric creatures that you're characters can encounter. Have suggestions for more? Post them in the comments below.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Remembering Full Thrust

I didn't get out much when I was a teenager. Besides being the official friendless geek of my high school, I had the misfortune of being born to a pair of domineering parents who wouldn't let me learn to drive until I was in college. However, once I had my license, I did my best to make up for lost time by going to all the local game stores my uptight mom and dad wouldn't take me to when I was a kid. One of these stores, Adventures Games Plus in Greenfield, WI, would become my home away from home and its usual crowd would become the crazy, geeky friends and the second family that I had longed for all my life.

While Adventure Games Plus (or just AGP) catered to all gaming interests, there was very strong miniature gaming clique who'd meet on Tuesdays and weekends to play. There was a group that played Star Fleet Battles each Sunday, and being a fan of old-school Trek, I jumped at the chance to learn. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. I thought SFB was going to be this fast-paced game of space combat. What I got instead were hours of energy allocation accounting and slogging across a hex map. My young ADD-addled mind rebelled at the codified dullness of the rules and the dichotomy of how could something that looked so cool could be so boring. After a game where a single impulse took four hours to resolve, I had all but given up on miniature gaming. Then I found out about a little game called Full Thrust.

Full Thrust was everything I was looking for in a space combat game. It was fast and easy to learn, you could field large fleets of ships, and it was generic enough to be used for just about any science fiction setting: Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and many others. Tuesday nights became the night of the week I lived for. It was the night that I would meet with my growing group of friends with our fleets of miniature ships and pit them against each other in white-hot science fiction battle. This was the time I started to learn to paint figures, where I started to learn basic tactics, and

I was in college at the time (circa 1994) and one of my professors mentioned the existence of this strange new computer technology called "the Internet" and the "World Wide Web." Discovering an online community of FT fans on an e-mail discussion group, I started to make connections with players across the planet, including the game's author, Jon Tuffley of Ground Zero Games. I soon discovered how easy it was to create your own web pages, and using a basic HTML reference and a share of server space on the University of Milwaukee--Wisconsin I started an online resource for players. Thus, The Unofficial Full Thrust WWW Page  (i.e. UFTWWWP) was born.

About that time, I met Gina, a girl who seemed interested in my strange and esoteric interests and we struck up a relationship. I was able to convince her to play FT and despite not knowing anything about tactics she always beat me. (No, I didn't let her win!) She and I attended my first Gen Con together when I found out there was going to be a large group of FT players running events. Back then, Gen Con was run in Milwaukee so attending only entailed a 20-minute drive into town. Even better, Jon Tuffley was flying in from Great Britain to attend. Gina said I was like a kid in a candy store, and after a whole day of gaming, I vowed to make keep making the annual pilgrimage and run game of my own.

After that, I started running convention games. Being the mid-90s, my sci-fi media obsession was Babylon 5 and I nearly swooned when Agents of Gaming came out with their Babylon 5 Wars line of miniatures. For one of my favorite con games, I got ahold of the Monogram model of the Babylon 5 station itself along with several Omega Class Destroyers and Hyperion Class Heavy Cruisers and created a scenario based on the epic battle in the B5 episode "Severed Dreams." It was always a sellout game.
Full Thrust Ship System Diagram

Sadly, local interest in FT began to wane by the late 90s, especially when the official "Fleet Books" series was released. Gina dumped me about a year-and-a-half and I haven't found a gamer girlfriend (or any other for that matter) since. While I found the brand new ship construction rules to be open up new possibilities, my friends found them too constraining. Eventually, my friends moved on to other games. Full Thrust became something I could only play at Gen Con. The final blow was the fateful day when it was announced that Gen Con would move from Milwaukee to distant Indianapolis. Being an impoverished nerd, working a series of low-paying office jobs, even a weekend in a cheap hotel was a cost I couldn't bear. I haven't played Full Thrust since around 2004.

Science fiction was moving on too, as many TV space operas began to finish their series and science fiction was moving to less expensive, SFX-lite conspiracy dramas. I lost the password to the UFTWWP and owners of the homegame.org server aren't answering my e-mails, I've been unable to update the page since 2005. I've often thought of moving it to a new site, but there was something always comes up to distract me.

However, I sometimes hear the siren song of my favorite miniature game. I still collect and paint starship miniatures. The rules are still available for free from Ground Zero Games website. There is still an active Full Thrust fan community online. The only thing I lack are people willing to play. Maybe it's time to dust off the figs and make an effort to bring the game back to life.