Monday, January 28, 2008

Sun of Suns - Karl Schroeder

"And for some reason, the thought that Admiral Fanning was dead, or soon would be, was no consolation. Who cares about him? some unexpeected part of him said. Only you, and what do you matter?"
-Karl Schroeder, from Sun of Suns

Hayden Griffin has just seen his family and his homeland destroyed at the hands of one Admiral Fanning, and swears revenge. A basic premise for any fantasy or space opera, except of course for the fact that he lives within a fullerene balloon(a dwarf cousing to a Dyson Sphere) and that his parents were killed because they were trying to create a sun. And now, after years of hatred and revenge driving him, what happens when he realizes that perhaps, the Admiral is not the monster he is believed to be.

Mixing a classical set of fantasy tropes with some surpising use of hard science, this makes what could have turned out to be a tiring rehash into an interesting and enlightening read. Heated by a central sun as well as smaller peripherary suns created by nation flotillas of wheeled towns and cities(the wheel is the basic shape to create more than microgravity), the space between becomes a sea with ever moving landmasses. And of course Winter, where no light penetrates through the clouds, and Sargassos where the air has gone stale and toxic, deadly to all without their clockwork space suits. Because of certain factors, which I won't tell for fear of spoiling the book, there is a mix of advanced and primitive technology at work, kerosene powered jet bikes for short range travel, and large wooden hulled sailing vessels ply the tradeways.

It feels like Schroeder has created a fully realized world, one with history and myth, as well as wonder and danger. The sciences of the cloud formations seem quite well thought out, though as I am no meteorologist I can't give more than a "it makes logical sense to me" opinion. The whole politics of nations in orbit around each other is something that is quite interesting, something that few other books have tackled.

The book reads like naval fiction, set in a space opera backround and a steampunk spirit with hard science added into the mix. I for one am looking quite forward to the second book in the series, but either way it's an excellent read. Perhaps not for everybody, but if you keep an open mind coming into it then I believe most will enjoy the vivid scenes that combine the otherworldly and familiar. Sun of Suns has my recommendation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Linkfest 2

Being in the mid-week schlump and not quite ambitious enough to post another book review yet, here's another linkfest.

Five Most Horrifying Bugs In The World because it's possible that you aren't quite terrified enough of creepy crawlies. Actually there aren't really creepy crawlies there as much as bitey and stingeys, though the last one does fit. Just...keep them all away from me.

On the lighter side, we have A Gentleman's Duel a steampunk romantic comedy. Or at least an excuse to watch animated steam powered mechs and some vast....tracts of land!

On a similar vein...well, as similar as steampunk romance can be to pre-apocalyptic zombie comedy, is Tofu the Vegan Zombie. As an added plus one of the voice actors is Ellen Muth, who starred in Dead Like Me, frightening off door-to-door missionaries. Anyways, go watch, and ask yourself, can love(and mad science) conquer death?

This I found really intesting, Sweet Power, or how to convert natural sugars in our blood into a continuous power supply. Those biomechanical implants you always wanted for your android future self are getting closer as we speak.

And for the inner geek.... Star Trek XI Trailer. First thoughts: Neat! And then of course the pedantic mental voice started going crazy over the difficulty of building a spaceship on-planet. But we will not go into mindless fan-chatter right now, let us focus on the fact that there will be a new Star Trek movie soon, not to mention hope that it's better than the last few.

Finally, we end with Troubleshooting your Time Machine. A serious business, at least if you don't want to end up in giant pig-mantis ruled medieval France.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Of Mice and Men...or Rats and Players

Mal: Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?
Zoe: Big damn heroes, sir!
Mal: Ain't we just?
-from Firefly

One of the main pitfalls of having a GM and players is all too often the GM gets caught up in creating a challenge for the players that they see themselves as their opponent. But in my opinion, one must realize that they're actually working together. The players create the world as much as the GM, by rough magic and flashing swords they shape it, and in the end it is an effort in cooperative storytelling. And in most cases, that means that the GM must have a hand in offering the players opportunities to be, simply put, BIG DAMN HEROES.

The players should never feel like they're rats in a maze, or pawns in someone else's game...they may well be, but they should never have to feel that way. Agent of one's own destiny, if such a thing is possible, or else at least given the opportunity to laugh in the face of death and face it head on. They may not win all the time, but they should never feel inconsequential. Never should they feel that they have no choice, there should always be choice, and an opportunity to be heroes, not just people being tossed around, their victories have to mean something. Players come with characters that are most often diamonds in the rough, they'll be shaped and sharpened by the challenges they have to overcome,and hopefully polished to a heroic luster.

Anyways, remember, while a GM should challenge the players, they shouldn't put them in untenable situations with little recourse but to follow along. Not to mention of course, the need to let your heroes shine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mighty Mooks!

Kobold, Gremlin, Orc, Cultist, whatever their label we all know these people, just enough threat to hold the countryside down, yet sword fodder to the first real adventurers that swing through.

Now I went through quite a few cheesy titles for this posts including, Making Mooks More Meaty, Mooks Mess up Mercurial Marauding Characters, The Little People, Goons, Goblins, and You, and similarly themed options certain to elicit groans. Because lets face it, after the first few levels most game systems give you characters that can plow through them without breathing heavy. But that doesn't mean that you have to leave these fellows behind, there's a certain charm to seeing a party brought low by a bunch of kobolds.

Now the obvious option is to simply level them up, they have adventures too, right? The problem with that is twofold, first and foremost it makes more work for you, secondly, the players might feel cheated by it. "What do you mean that gnome is an epic level barbarian!" This is one of the places where I'll say that detail is unneeded, faceless minion #165 might be facing a troubled marriage and is a concert violinist, but be honest with yourself, why waste time coming up with a background when he'll be dead before dawn.

What I think is an acceptable solution is to spend a little bit thinking about the tactical situation. Often heroes will be venturing into the mook's home ground, aka, the first line of defense. Traps are always a favorite, although can be unbalancing if the PC that can actually find them is absent, or even if nobody thought to create one to begin with. But what I think that you need to remember is that there are other ways of fighting besides standing face to face battering swords, the holy trinity in most RPG games is Grapple, Trip, and Disarm. Swarm tactics, helping each other out for bonuses, and then getting the PC's to where they can ram their dirty little feet u...errr, lets just say in a vulnerable position. Other tactics include nasty little things to slow the heroes down, nets work well, and in certain situations weapons with reach allow some survivability to your mooks(not that you should expect them to survive, but you should at least hope to wear the Heroes down). Remember, weak does not mean dumb.

The other situation that you have mooks in is where you're likely just teaching the PCs the rules of the game. Here is where I think you're validated in making your tactics for the mooks less than optimal, use them to illustrate maneuvers that the PCs have as options. Again, grappling, tripping, disarming, all valid, and there are some settings that allow other options, being intimidated by a little lizard man will at least wring out a few laughs. And don't be afraid to include a little camp or humor in their portrayal, or what the heroes do to them.

The only other thing to mention is that if you're going to be rolling up treasure, take a moment to do it beforehand...and let them use it if they can. A magic wand or weapon or something of that nature can give ample opportunities for adding some depth to the encounter.

Anyways, hopefully this little primer has given you some ideas, although it is by no means exhaustive. If you'd like to share some of your tactics for the making and breaking of mooks, feel free to comment.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Refusal of the Call

"Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered; for it is always possible to turn the ear to other interests. Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative."
-The Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell

So you've plotted out the adventure, statted out the dungeon, and dropped the hook right in front of the PC's...and then they don't take it. In fact, they decide to go the opposite way entirely. Is it time to toss your campaign notes, throw a fit, or try to railroad them back onto track via kidnapping/impending doom/geas? No, of course not, but it doesn't mean that nothing happens either.

This time we'll look at three strategies to use when this happens, in the interest in not only making an enjoyable adventure now that you have to think from scratch, but also in helping with the worldbuilding, a dynamic world is something that is vastly more rewarding in my opinion than one that remains static aside from the PC's actions.
1. The world of adventure
2. You are not alone
3. Things happen without the PC's, or NPC's have lives too!

The World Of Adventure
One thing that I like to do is to map out the area. No need to be drawing whole continents and landscapes just yet, though I know the temptation is there. Look for geological features, they* say that geography is destiny, and they aren't far wrong. Because let's face it, fantasy worlds are more often than not just a bunch of stereotypes bunched together in a formulaic manner. Mountain? Dwarves. Forest? Elves. Hills? Giants. etc. etc.

What I personally like to do is, if they've abandoned the big huge evil rising in the east, then offer options. Just sketch out enough of a scenario in each direction that they can be heroic, even if it is for lesser stakes. Having a few premade scenarios lifted from the net can be a lifesaver in these times, it doesn't take much to have people start complaining about monsters, villains, and the like. Drop those scenarios into locations and have the rumors start flying. No need to fully flesh out any one scenario unless they take the bait, and then a random encounter on the way often will give you enough breathing room to start building.

And just because you planned out that dungeon for one area doesn't mean that it won't serve perfectly well now. Change out a few of the non generic monsters and tweak the treasure and boss battle a bit, and if they want a dungeon crawl(despite crawling away from the one with the plot macguffin in it), there you have it.

You Are Not Alone
All those stores stocking adventuring gear aren't there just for the PC's. Well, they are, but they don't have to be. Unless they're specifically the chosen ones, it's not too far fetched to have other adventuring groups step up to the plate. One example that I would like to give is an aborted adventure turned ghastly. The PC's had recently decided about halfway through a mission to destroy some ghouls that it was time to move on(a theme you'll hear often), headed off to the large city to find, well booze, women and something to spend their ill gotten gains on. When they return a few weeks later, the town is a very different place, their favorite pub is now a ghoul holding area, and the town itself is under new management. One NPC that had been an aid to the players earlier, a sorcerer, and the half orc bartender with a heart of gold had teamed up to keep the town from being overrun by ghouls, unfortunately the sorcerer's solution was one that ended with him as the new mayor, and dissenters thrown to the ghouls.

This is something that I might touch upon later, amicable evil, moralities become quite interesting when it turns out that the PC's are the ones that caused the chain of events that have blackened the countryside. By their inaction, not to mention earlier saving the sorcerer and rekindling the orc's joy in battle, the town has now transformed from Basic Adventurer Podunk, into Ghoul Infested Wasteland. Another technique to spice up an otherwise routine mission that you had to create on the fly is to throw in the doppelganger adventure group, perhaps they came earlier than the PC's and all that are left are dead monsters and heroes basking in the glow of the treasure room. Or they come later than the PC's and demand the macguffin for their own quest.

Things Happen Without the PC's or NPC's have lives too!
As illustrated above, things happen without the players characters. The war that the players decided not to stop suddenly starts drying up the goods to the city. And then you have a whole new adventure of riots in the streets and a scramble to buy goods, churches are mobbed as those that can create food suddenly become in demand, and booze, the bread and butter of adventurer life becomes worth its weight in gold. Or else they might wake up to find their favorite watering hole under new management.

The other side to the coin is that NPC's can be a wonderful way to pump life into an otherwise boring section of play. In another post I'll do a more detailed look at the lives of NPC's, although for right now I'll keep it short. Even if the players don't really want to leave the tavern there are plenty to keep them occupied, or at least to enjoy. Because let's not kid ourselves, a massive and epic plot with cinematic scenes may be what you had in mind, but really, as long as the players are enjoying the game, that's what matters. Here are a few ideas for the tavern; late night fight club, the champion being a werebear. Is that the missing noble woman up there doing the dance of nine veils? If so, then why, if not, then who is it? Excuse me waiter, there's a kobold in my beer! And the ever popular "unnamed gate guard who pesters us for papers when we come into town" on his off day.

There you have it, three quick ways to make sure that your Players enjoy, despite having to go off the planned route. Really, that's the main thing about playing, people should enjoy it, and they should have actual choice in what their characters do. As a GM or DM or Storyteller, you shouldn't be afraid to improvise a little bit, even if it means putting that villain on the backburner for a few weeks(though just because they're on the backburner doesn't mean that they aren't keeping busy as well)

*They being the international Conspiracy of Cartographers in league with the Bavarian Illuminati to create a mass illusion known as England

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Every now and then(i.e. When I'm feeling lazy), we'll have a linkfest of neat things found around the net. Ranging from geekery and mad science to simply awesome.

Since I think everybody needs a time waster, I submit TV Tropes where no plot device or character is new under the sun. In fact it's been used, reused, and overdosed a few times before it actually arrives, and now you can see how all your favorite shows, books, and movies are all a comglomeration of tropes and stereotpes. Either way it'll pull you for a few hours.

Doomsday Device Keychain for the inner villain in you that can't wait to laugh as they burst into your inner sanctum and say "Escape this, superfools!" while the walls come crumbling down around you(Become a load bearing villain today!)

On a sweeter note, 3d Printing with sugar! Or, your very own replicator, Star Trek eat your heart out. Actually that's probably exactly what would happen. "Earl Gray, hot....What is this? Sugar water, in a sugar cup?!?"

Also worthy of mention is this week's Dresden Codak and the appearance of the Future Preenactment Society. "Because the best history has yet to be written." Truly, the memoirs of the Gorilla Guerilla War are a sight to behold.

A modern interpretation of Carmen Sandiego by college humor. Language warning...actually massive language warning, but quite funny.

To close up with something a little more kid friendly, we have Baby's First Mythos something that looks like an awesome gift if any of your Lovecraftian friends manage to actually breed(a frightening thought to be sure).

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Savage World of Solomon Kane

"Far back in Kane's gloomy eyes a scintillant light had begun to glimmer, like a witch's torch glinting under fathoms of cold gray ice. His blood quickened. Adventure! The lure of life-risk and battle! The thrill of breathtaking, touch-and-go drama!"
-Skulls in the Stars, by Robert E. Howard

The name Robert E. Howard, unfortunately these days the name will all too often conjure up images of a barely dressed Arh-nuld as Conan in a campy B movie. Which is a shame because it turns people off from one of the great Pulp authors, and one which in my opinion deserves more attention. Thankfully, Pinnacle Entertainment Group has faithfully adapted one of his lesser known characters into their latest rules setting.

As a fan of Robert E. Howard, and especially Solomon Kane, the grim, driven, Puritan adventurer(not to mention better clothed than most of his other characters), and was more than a little excited to get my hands on this rulebook. For anyone not familiar with the character, or of Howard outside a campy movie, go read a few of the short stories, many of them available online on Project Gutenberg Australia I personally recommend starting with either the Solomon Kane or the Bran Mak Morn stories to whet your appetite. Although the book does provide summaries of the stories, they simply don't do justice to the Howard's writing.

But let us get into the book itself. First off, it's solid. No flimsy paperback here, this one could stand up to use. Second of all, it's simply very visually appealing book, some people would like to get down to the nitty gritty first off, but with full color pictures, and plenty of them, it's a pleasure to read. The pictures also help to paint in the world of Solomon Kane, adventures in strange venues against macabre forces and uncaring enemies. This world was still wild and empty around the edges, with priests to old gods and races of beast yet undiscovered.

The meat of the game is of course the Savage Worlds system. To my shame this is the first product that I have purchased for that system, having heard rather disparaging comments from the D20 advocates that I game with. However if you're used to only D&D or other D20 systems, fear not! It'd take a whole other entry to go over the rules in depth, but let me say that they Savage Worlds rules are easy to understand and intuitive. The biggest difference most veterans of a D20 system will face is the classless character building, which will make leveling up and creating characters much less painful. And the included character sheet is especially well made for easy understanding. Just in case anyone is wondering, this is not just a setting book, but an entire self contained game, with the Savage Worlds rules included, even if one was to play the setting with a different system, the book is something that has enough flavor and ideas to get it just for that.

While I'm not going to review the rules as a whole, there are a few places where Solomon Kane diverges from the standard Savage Worlds. The chief of these being the magic system. Instead of power points, the Kane book uses a more ritualistic variant, one more in line with Howard's writings of juju men and dark priest pacts with unknown forces. Each spell has a difficulty modifier, and time spent concentrating can decrease the difficulty. If one is unlucky enough to fail at an attempt to cast, there's a backlash table with all sorts of nasty side effects. Something I think is much more cinematic than "You lose the spell." The other thing is that magic essentially has 2 schools, Shamanism and Sorcery, with each having a different ability being their key, Spirit and Smarts respectively. The intention seeming to be that each would have their advantages and disadvantages, however it seems that most of the Powers/Spells themselves are modified by Smarts for range, with only a few exceptions. One quibble would be that the range be modified by the chief spellcasting ability, except in particular cases(It makes sense that one like Transfer Soul would have a range of Spirit, but it seems arbitrary that one like Slumber would have a range based on Smarts). But either way, if you're looking for a high magic world where fireballs have frequent flier cards, then you're looking in the wrong place, the magic here is gritty, difficult, and often macabre(an example being the spell to animate your hand post amputation, and no, it doesn't grow back afterwards).

Now we get to the meat of the book, info on the game setting and the campaign. As I mentioned, I'm new to the Savage Worlds products, but their adventures and plot point style really resonates with me. It's a little more structured than a freeform adventure, but it'll really help out an overloaded GM. And the fact that instead of simple information, many of the NPC interactions are in the form of question/answers seem to really put the GM at ease. However this comes at the price of a bit of railroading, though if done well enough with a GM that can improvise a bit, I think it's something that should be more or less undetectable. To save space in the section, several of the mooks and villains faced have their stats in the bestiary at the back of the book, with a few modifications mentioned, however one thing I found annoying was that those that do have their stats mentioned in the adventure most often don't appear in the monster bestiary. Now this isn't a necessary thing, but I would have liked some reference in the bestiary to where I could find their stats in the campaign.

But that I'm quibbling over something as minor as that just goes to show that all in all it's a very well put together product. Something gamers can hop into and enjoy, and Howard fans can be proud of, and people who are both can use to introduce to those that are neither. Even if you never get another Savage Worlds book there's enough here that it doesn't matter, it's self contained and provides plenty of material, though if you're like me you'll likely be checking out the rest of what is offered, I'm definitely impressed, not only with the system, but with the quality of the product. The Savage World of Solomon Kane definitely has my recommendation as being worth the investment.

Light - M. John Harrison

"As a matter of interest, why did you murder all those women?"
"To keep you away from me."
"Oh dear. Didn't you realize it wasn't working?"
-from Light, by M. John Harrison

This is a crossposting of a review I had up on my other blog, but A. It fits better here, and B. I'm lazy and want to get content up.

Well, I just finished reading Light, by M. John Harrison this morning, or late last night if you prefer. It was a book that I picked up and put down twice, getting a chapter or two in before putting it down and wandering off, only on the third time did I stick it out because I felt deep down that there was a great prize in reading through this mystery.

It follows three people intersecting in time and space, and every one of them is peeled back in layers of pain and ennui, either way, they're all varying degrees of fucked up. The first is a software engineer who is working on a quantum computer, no, actually he's a serial killer targeting women, well, actually he's a man fleeing a codependant relationship, but it truth it's a monster with a horse skull for a head that he stole a set of dice from, and he uses those dice as a divination guide through life that led him to see the possibility of a quantum still with me here?

Secondly there's the White Cat, Seria Mau, or Seria Mau and the K-Ship, White Cat. You see she's the brain in the ship, literally. Not only that, she stole it from the military. Of course, the ship isn't really military, it's a shell of a ship hacksawed to fit in this alien artifact so they can hook it up to human technology and jack in a human controller. If you've ever read any of Anne McCaffrey's "Ship who..." series then you know the gist of it. Of course, she's also a little girl whose mother died when she was young and her father did his best to turn her into a replacement for the dead mother...with all the ickyness that entails. Oh, and the process of hooking one up to the tech makes you schizophrenic, well, not really, since there really is an alien presence speaking with her mind. She is now, among other things, a pirate.

The last one is Ed Chianese, we're first introduced to him as a twink, not what the current definition would be, but a future one. He goes for weeks into full body immersion tanks to experience a 3d fantasy world where he stars in a bigger than life detective drama, heavy on the gratuitous sex and violence. After all that's taken away from him we find out that he was once an infamous pilot pulling daring raids into the void and around the Beach. The Beach is a sort of tidal area around a section of space that essentially defies all explanation, hundreds of civilizations came to try and understand it, sometimes dragging whole planets around to get a better view, but in the end they died out just as easily. Which means that there's a lucrative business with salvage. Of course, beneath the death defying flight jockey and the burnt out pleasure junkie is the little boy who didn't understand why his sister left him and his father alone after their mother died.

In the end their stories get twined together and wrapped up with, what I felt, was an overabundance of handwaving and saying "Aliens did it." actually just one godlike alien who designed everything from the beginning to create their set of circumstances. It felt lacking, there were time paradoxes that I felt could have come together neatly, strings that could have linked up nicely, in fact none of the three characters actually meet each other except as, well, bones. I felt disappointed at the end, it was not what the beginning and brilliant middle of the book promised. Of course, the only characters really with soul happened to be the side characters.

On the up side, as I mentioned, the setting was brilliant, beautiful, and I wish more time had been spent on it. The post-frontier town era that plagued the beach, the use of 'fetches' part hologram and part nanotech cloud to communicate, the rickshaw girls, genetically engineered so they could run and carry the cart from birth to death(2-4 years or so), the one time 'cultivars' or grown clones where you could download your personality and be whatever the gene techs could splice for you. Then there were the New Men, aliens who visited Earth and conquered it, of course they weren't very good at it, and within a few generations they were the universal garbage men and quick-e-store clerks, unable to fit in and compete in a human world.

Two other themes stood out among the characters, one was a twinned facination and disgust with sex, and the other was a callousness about life. The killer of course has encounters with the women, and with his ex-wife, where he really isn't interested in intercourse nearly as much as seeing her vulnerable and, well, fucked up from her own psychological issues of anorexia and the fact that she's sleeping with a killer(and won't let him leave her). Seria Mau watches her passengers with a lurid voyeurism, until she gets annoyed at them and vents all except one into space. That one too will die along with the other person who ends up helping her, marooned on a viral planet. And finally for Ed, years of VR has ended up with him reacting to women only as sex objects, the exception being the rickshaw girl that he saves who is also somewhat of a mother figure, until her own psychosis sends her to a body shop to be turned into a sexual object so that she doesn't have to act out the protective envelope that he's surrounded himself in, which he of course rejects out of hand. Maybe the author is trying to say that one should be happy with one's self, but it sounds more selfish. As if Ed sees her only as valuable in relation to his own self worth, and that her fears and insecurities aren't acceptable.

Anyways, if you're going to read the book, it's a fun ride, but if you're pressed for time it's one you can skip. The ideas of fetches and cultivars and gene splicing are wonderful, and it promises so much for a story, which gets bogged down in the last chapters by handwaving. But if you've got time to burn and are looking for something beautiful and transient, then pick it up and enjoy the ride.

"The mathmatics wrapped around her--kind, patient, amiable, inhuman, as old as the halo. It would always look after her. But its motives were completely unknowable.
"Sometimes I hate you," she advised it.
Honesty made her amend this. "Sometimes I hate myself," she was forced to admit."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chain Reaction 2.0

Over the New Years holiday I was finally able to get a victi....errr, I mean volunteer to play out a game using the Chain Reaction 2.0 rules from Two Hour Wargames. I've heard nothing but praise for them and really wanted to give them a try, plus of course the added bonus of them offering it for the best price imaginable, free!

I took the blue forces and my friend D, who may or may not enter in their own version of the story took the red forces. Both sides represented by board game pieces since, it was too much effort to dig around for anything more suitable at the moment.

We set up some makeshift terrain, the major features including a Church with a fence on the eastern side of the play area, a low wall along the north, cars and a store on the west, and a town's clock tower in the center.

In hindsight it probably would have been better to play one of the premade scenarios that they give out, instead of jumping right in, but that'll be something for next time. We both rolled up forces for our battle, the setting being rival gang warfare. One of the main lures of the Two Hour Wargame product line is, well, as advertised, all their games should be playable in 2 hours or less. Well we spent a good part of that time looking through the rules and rolling up weapons and characters(they had a nice table for rolling up your force, though for the gang army set under weapons it had "varies")
I winged it on the weapons, and we ended up with each side having a LMG, two Carbines, two Machine Pistols, Two regular pistols, and one BA Pistol(As well as 1 grenade each, though neither of us got a chance to use it). Again, probably should have started less ambitious than 8 characters per side, but that's how it went down. With my forces entering from the south and his from the north


I split my blue forces into two groups, initially I intended the western group under the 2nd in command to occupy the Tower and provide covering fire. Unfortunately I mistakenly put my pistol men with the LMG equipped 2nd in command. So they advanced up to the tower while my main force tried to flank the red forces by going around the east of the Church.

Advancing into position

The Red force had little actual movement, as even alone my LMG was successfully forcing most of them to hold their position at the low wall, although they did attempt to send their carbine equipped soldiers to occupy the Tower, they were repulsed, with one falling.(Where it would remain for the rest of the battle, out in the open field beyond hope of rescue). My own fortunes took a turn for the worse as a lucky shot by their leader took out my LMG man, which forces me to abort my flanking maneuver in favor of sending my own carbines up into the church.

The Opening Moves

The Red force attempts to take my strongpoint at the church, and is repulsed, some lucky shots by my carbine men keep their LMG equipped soldier from providing much support. They do however sneak a man forward to the cars, where a fierce exchange of pistol fire erupts, and gets nowhere fast(their low impact meant that at best there were a lot of grazing wounds).


After Red's disastrous attempt at taking the church I returned the favor, charging at their downed men in the open. No mercy or quarter was given as the Blue forces sliced their throats. Unfortunately both sides got bogged down with the low wall separating them, this is where both leaders bit the dust as we tried out the melee rules. After that they were able to sneak a man into a church, and a brief firefight among the pews erupted, I emerged victorious, with D's man running away in a panic, but it was a pyrric victory. Their LMG leader was back up and my carbine man was having a hard time keeping them from coming forward. On the other hand, near the end I was able to revive my own LMG soldier.


We decided to call it a draw, each with only three characters in play, and having lost a leader. All in all it took about 4 hours to get that far, though admittedly it took about an hour of set-up time.

Lessons Learned:
Height is power, in not pressing hard for the church, D had very limited movement options, if not for lucky rolls when I tried to force the wall, they'd have been in a world of hurt, I think it was a double six for my soak roll that left my leader lying in a puddle of blood before he could get the grenade off.
Moving in the open is bad. Both of our assaults stalled due to trying to force the issue moving through the open. And his poor soldier that got taken out in the second or third turn attempting to reach the tower was still lying there by the end of the game.
Don't Go it Alone. The activation system being such that those with a leader, or those with a high rep are more likely to move, splitting up is a bad idea. The western front was surprisingly quiet as turn after turn passed where neither side could move, and when they did a pistol battle would quickly have them ducking back to cover.

Overall, it was a very fun game, though it had started dragging at the end. The rules were indeed easy to understand, although in practice it was a bit hard to recall everything that applied. Again, I think that if we had played one of the beginner scenarios things might have been better. Since it was free, I can't really give much complaint, though there could have been a table to roll for weapons. The other thing was that it was, well, rather hard to actually kill someone, perhaps it was simply due to the fact that we were using very low impact weapons, but about 80% of the time the character hit would be back on its feet the next turn, or else once someone tended their wounds. The duck back and "in sight" rules really made sure to punish our stupid decisions, some more so than others. It's definitely a game system that I'd like to revisit, even though it didn't live up to the advertising about being only 2 hours.

Opening Night

Welcome. Introductions are always tricky, so I'll do my best to keep it short and sweet.

This isn't going to be a very personal intimate blog, I already have one for that, this is going to be a place for things such as book reviews, AARs and game reports from Wargames and RPG's, tips and tricks, along with whatever cool related links come our way. And eventually it might expand to other subjects as well, depending on what comes up, perhaps guest writers contributing from time to time. Either way, it should be a fun ride, or at least interesting.

Anyways, pardon our dust until we can get things together, but otherwise feel free to read, enjoy, and comment.