Monday, April 10, 2017

Who the feth moved my cheese?

As man took to the stars in the distant past, he took many creatures from Earth with him, some intentionally, some less so.  As in the age of sail, wherever Man went, Rat went as well.

Over tens of thousands of years some changed.  Exactly what the catalyst was is unknown - perhaps the influence of the warp, perhaps the continued effect of experimentation with the sciences of the Dark Age of Technology, perhaps an intentional uplifting to create disposable workers or soldiers, perhaps a combination of them all, mixing and breeding.  But regardless of the cause in the 41st Millenium another race contests the stars, often from within and underneath the works of the Imperium.

While some consider them a form of the aberrant beastmen, offshoots of humanity itself, or some strand of alien, this is not the case.  Known by various names - Ratmen, the Nimh, and many others this plague lurks ready to strike when conditions are right.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two worlds

My (ir)regular RPG group has played a lot of superhero games in our day, and over time I've bought a bunch of Heroclix figures to use in those games.  Depending on what they have available, I've placed orders with two main places, Troll and Toad and Popular Collections.   

Years ago, as detailed HERE, I ended up entered in a contest at Troll and Toad through an order I made, and didn't realize there even was a contest until I received the prize along with my order.


More recently, this past August, Popular Collections had a Heroclix related contest up on Facebook.  I entered as a lark, and managed to win!  Great!  I sent them my information and waited.  

And waited.

And waited.

I don't keep up with when the various Heroclix sets come out, so figured it might be an issue with that.  Looking online, I saw that the set in question came out some time ago, so I contacted them again, figuring it somehow slipped through the cracks.  Things happen, no worries.

So again I waited.

And waited.

And contact them again, they again say it will be right out, then nothing.


The prize itself isn't even a big deal.  I'm not out any actual money, like from an order that wasn't shipped, but it makes me concerned that if I did have a problem with an order, I would similarly wind up in eternal customer service limbo.  Add to this that in the contest someone else had mentioned that they were still waiting on a prize from an even *earlier* contest, and it seems unfortunately to be a pattern.  It's just disappointing to be promised something and repeatedly let down.

(Facebook messages, with address info removed)
Wow! Thanks so much for the Heroclix prize! Go Black Manta! My address is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Congrats James! We have you down and your brick will ship when the Joker's Wild Set is out. Have a good weekend!
Hi, I just wanted to check on this Joker's Wild giveaway; I have not received anything or heard any more since August. Thanks!
Hi James, Our apologies as this should have been shipped months ago. I am checking our shipping records right now to have this figured out for you. No matter what we will get you your Brick of Joker's Wild! I will be in touch by tomorrow afternoon at the latest. Thanks, PC
Hi, hadn't heard anything back. Thanks.
Hi James, I spoke with Shipping and went though all records and cannot find record of the shipment which is very strange. I just submitted an order with one of our suppliers and we should have the Joker's Wild Brick in house by mid next week to ship. Until then if you have any questions please email me at any time. Thank you. PC
P.S. Could you please let me now your shipping address?
Hi, any word on this? Thank you.

So...Troll and Toad.  Great site.

UPDATE 04/10/17 - Rather than send me a brick, they've given me a code for credit on an order.  That'll probably work out better anyways as I tend to like the various common figs, and this'll let me order from various sets.  We'll see how the order goes...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hyborian Age - Session One

I've started a Pathfinder campaign set in Conan's Hyboria, but a hundred years or so after King Conan disappeared.  For the deadly, generally low magic Hyboria I would generally prefer to use a system like HERO or GURPS, but I decided to use Pathfinder for ease of entry for the players, who have all played Pathfinder or D&D 3.x.  Magic items will be rarer and more expensive to create, and shipwrecks, etc. will be common so characters won't get a chance to get too attached to piles of gear.

We had our first session, and here's the recap:

Hyborian Age – Session 1 – “Cat’s out of the Bag”
(Larry) – Jubel, warrior from Cimmeria
(Mark) Fiala Suslaya – Cimmerian witch (and her owl, Odus too!)
(Cat) Nedra – Hyrkanian archer/sorceress
(John) – Ty Nightseeker – Hyrkanian bandit-hunter
(Joel) Trace Erbite – Kothic warrior/wizard
(Patrick) Toma Erbite – Kothic wizard/assassin (and his weasel Belal too!)
(James) – Malakul Xhoon, Nemedian holy man of Mitra, who somehow fell in with this band of murderous thugs!

Having all been part of the mercenary army raised by the Shemitish city-state of Sabatea in its conflict with Shushan, the characters fell in with each other during the rout of said army.  Helping to defend the city gates against the initial assault by the enemy, they come to the attention of King Zagat and enter his service directly, riding out the siege and depravation in the city in relative comfort.   

One night they are summoned and sent on a special mission – to retrieve LORD WIGGLES, the queen’s (hateful) cat that has escaped from the palace and is loose in the city, where some horrible fate may befall it.  While this fate would doubtless be just, it would be distressing for the queen, and therefore for the king.  Out into the night our heroes go!  Talking their way past a band of hungry thugs, the group befriends an old beggar who helps point them in the right direction of the rogue feline.  

They spot the cat, right as it is captured and taken into a walled compound, that of the nobleman Lord Aras.  While some knock on the front gate seeking entry, the other half of the group sneak over one of the compound walls.  After an initial rude reply to their requests, the group out front is greeted face to face and told to leave.  Instead, they attack and force their way in, with Fiala turning Jubel into a death-dealing giant, cleaving men apart with every blow.  The others take their own toll as well, while Ty Nightseeker fights his way clear and enters the house itself.  While the rest butcher the house guards out front, Ty finds a sack with a cat in it in the kitchen, and meets his fellows with his prize as they hack their way in the front door.  

They are about to depart, when Jubel insists they inspect the cat first – and it indeed turns out to be some common alleycat, not Lord Wiggles!  Returning to the kitchen, a more thorough search turns up the sack that indeed contains the object of their quest.  Returning to the palace, they are given thanks and a choice of rewards.

They can either take a monetary reward and continue in the king’s service, or be shown a way out of the city, past the encircling army.  They choose to leave rather than risk starvation or worse, and the next morning are led down to the dungeons, then to a secret tunnel out of town.  They are told where to find a spear and a drug to apply to it (made from purple lotus from the ghost-haunted swamps of southern Stygia), to use to subdue the guardian at the other end of the tunnel – the MAN-RENDER!  A foul near-manlike beast with great strength and sharp fangs and claws.  It is chained up at the end, but the spear should allow the drug to be administered from safety.  Jubel takes up the spear and engages with the creature, venturing closer in his blood-lust and drawing close enough to be partially rent before withdrawing with the rest of the group as the drug takes hold of the beast.  Out of the cave, they gaze down the mountain at Sabatea and her foes below, and consider where the road of adventure will take them next…

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Massilia campaign: Iron Warriors vs. Grey Knights

I had missed the official start of the campaign due to snow and then being out of town the following week, so this was the first mission I've been able to play.  It was 1250pts, my Iron Warriors vs. Josh M's Grey Knights.  The mission is called "Survivors", where the objectives represent injured warriors from the different factions you try to rescue/capture.  After setup you roll to see if they are Imperial, Chaos, or local xenos (basically eldar).  Objective for your faction is worth 2VP, opposing faction worth 3VP, xenos 1VP.  Could make for some interesting late-game choices I think.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Iron Warriors: WIP but mostly done

The Iron Warriors are pretty far along.  I still need to:

  • arrange to pick up parts to finish some things - mk III missile launcher squad, techmarine servo harnesses, and jump packs for the assault marines
  • When cleaning and organizing, I apparently lost the drill bit small enough for bolter barrels, so will need to wait for a new drill bit before doing those.  I did the meltas and flamers with a hobby knife, but would like to go deeper for the bolters
  • Seal
  • I will also make a jump pack captain and a squad of MkIII vanguard vets, but have not even started construction on those yet, but those are just extras.  Aside from the Mk III missile squad and the parts, the 2000pt core army is almost done

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When life gives you chains, choke a crime lord to death

Drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra, Carrie Fisher passed away recently, as you are no doubt already aware if you read a blog about sci-fi toy soldiers.  

There's been a lot written and said about her life as an actress, writer and mental health advocate, and I'm not going to repeat that here.  I, like many of my generation, grew up with her as Leia in the Star Wars trilogy, and that character definitely made a big impression.  

Leia was a total badass.  In the first few minutes we're introduced to her, we see her as a spy, a leader, someone not afraid to trade shots with stormtroopers and then stand up to the big bad guy, the evil space wizard who just finished choking a guy to death with one hand.  You know that the Death Star had to be big if it had room for her balls.

Later she again stands up to the big villains, after presumably being tortured, and convincingly lies to their faces, well enough to fool even the evil space wizard who should have a feel for that sort of thing.  Then, after seeing her home, along with likely almost everyone she knew growing up blown to bits, she doesn't curl up in a corner and cry.  She doesn't bang on her cell door screaming at her captors.  No, she waits quietly, doubtless weighing options.  Leia is scary.  When she has a chance to escape, she grabs it and even takes charge, shoots more stormtroopers and later we again see her as a leader.

In Empire Strikes Back, the trend continues, with her taking no crap and being as active a player as she can.  

And then of course in Return of the Jedi she blows your mind.  No, not with the bikini.  With this outfit:

We'd already crushed on Leia from the earlier movies, but this solidified it.  Her love was frozen in carbonite and held by a crime lord.  One does not do that to Leia Organa.  Liam Neeson may have a very special set of skills, but he has nothing on Leia.  She walks into the crime lord's lair and as a backup plan threatens to blow them all up with a thermal detonator.  And I take that threat seriously.  Why?  Because who would survive that blast?  Her love Han, safe in his carbonite cocoon, ready to be retrieved when Luke comes along later to sift through the rubble.  I have no doubt that she discussed that plan B with Chewie, who goes along with it.  Chewie's an awesome buddy, but that's a different post.

So, that bikini.  As a straight male, I don't deny it was a bonus when I got older and Carrie Fisher looked good in it, though at ten when I first saw it it was not a big deal.  Much more impressive was that while chained up, she then used that same chain to choke her captor to death.  Impressive in general, even more so given the size of the neck in question.  Later she goes on to help lead an assault, shoot more stormtroopers, forge an alliance with a new species in a matter of hours, yadda yadda yadda.  Just a day in the life.  Given a toothpick and enough time to make a plan, I have no doubt Leia could figure out a way to take down the Empire.

Leia certainly became a role model for me both for myself, an encouragement to get involved when trouble arises and not to give up, and a model for what I would want in a partner - someone competent and accomplished, someone who would go through hell for you, or if necessary make it hell for those in the way.  I think I've found my own Leia, and I hope all of you can too if you haven't yet.  Don't be satisfied with less.  

And if Carrie herself is anything like her most famous character, heaven better open the gates quickly if they know what's good for them.  Godspeed and lightspeed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

When last we left our heroes - random adventure tables

I've been toying with the idea of a fantasy RPG campaign.  Part of the problem is my group(s) are fairly erratic, and getting a consistent group of players consistently is unlikely.  So, I have been thinking of ways to minimize the impact of that while still letting folks participate when they can.  So I think we'll set the group up as a loose group of adventurers who sometimes drift off on their own.  But what will they do while they're off on their own?  In a brief flurry of inspiration I made some random tables to fill in the time they were away.  I'm still undecided about the system I will use, but the tables are currently in a D&D 3.x/Pathfinder default mode, in a world more Robert E. Howard/Conan inspired than "standard" D&D.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Looted Post

Saved for a deeper read later, perhaps others will find it useful too - great post on tools and resources for conversion work.  Check it out!

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