Sunday, October 01, 2023

Xenos Rampant and Space Hulk again

For the September session we played two games of Xenos Rampant, followed by a game of Space Hulk.

We decided to make up lists of set points and then roll for scenarios.

The first game saw me fielding 36 points of Space Marines vs Rick's Necrons in the Diversion scenario. The game ended in a draw.

For the second game Adrian's Eldar defended against Rick's Tyranids in the Orbital Drop scenario.

We wrapped up the afternoon with a big game of Space Hulk.

For the October session I am planning to return to some historicals with a game of Napoleonics.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Savage Gamma World #6

A few weeks after their return, our heroes received disturbing news regarding the army that they had encountered at Titan's Beach - another band of the soldiers, calling themselves "Humanity's Restoration" (HR), had taken over the mutant village of Gundity, driven the older and weaker mutants out, and enslaved the adults, forcing them to work and threatening to harm their children if they refused.

Batte, Kong, Rangup, Rex, and Xi Xi (see PC profiles here) were sent to rescue the villagers.

Arriving at the walled village at night, our mutants infiltrated the village and established contact with the captives using Batte's telepathy power. Together, they planned a multi-prong attack, with Xi Xi sneaking into the army's leader's house to incapacitate him, while would neutralise the soldiers in the barracks, while Rangup and Kong would take out the guards at the gate so allow everyone to make a quick escape.

However, the plan fell apart as Xi Xi was detected by the soldiers' leader, who shot and wounded the mutant. The gunshot raised an alarm, and our mutants were forced to launch  their attack prematurely. Fortunately, forewarned by Batte's communication, the captured villagers rose against their captors, and all the soldiers were overpowered and killed, with only one managing to escape.

Our mutants then learned that the soldiers had been using the villagers as labourers as they worked to restored a cable car that led into the mountain above the village. Our mutants decided to take the cable car and explore where it led to, thinking that they may be able to find some technology or weapons that will aid them in the future conflict with the HR.

The cable car took the party high up into the mountain, eventually arriving at set of steel doors set in the side of the mountain. Using the access card they took from the soldiers at the Titan, they were able to open the door. The door led into a corridor with steel walls and floor, which led to what appeared to be a long-abandoned research facility. The floors of the facility was curiously clean, and our mutants soon found the reason: a functioning cleaning robot had carried on its duties despite the disappearance of its previous masters.

Exploring deeper into the facility, our mutants found a set of broken steel doors, seemingly forced open from within. Inside they found a large number of cages, now all open and empty. Nearby was another set of broken steel doors, this time forced open from the outside, and again leading into a room full of empty cages.

At this point another robot appeared - but this one was a security-bot, which began attacking the party with laser guns mounted on the ends of its arms. It was soon joined by the cleaning robot, which grappled Rangup. After a short fight, our mutants managed to put both robots out of commission.

Further exploration led to a garbage pit in the deepest recess of the facility, where the party found old human and animal bones.

With no weapons or tech to salvage, our mutants returned to the cable car, and made their way back.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was a mash-up of two scenarios from Gamma Zine. The liberation of the village was supposed to be just the opening encounter for the scenario, but as the players took a long time in planning their attack, it took almost half the session before they decided on a plan... which fell apart because Xi Xi's player, a total newbie at RPGs, failed his Stealth roll despite using up all his Bennies, and nearly lost his character.

I had to drop a few of the combat encounters I had prepared for the rest of the session to allow time for the party to explore the facility.

There wasn't much loot to be had from the session, but during play one of the players asked to use a dead/dying soldier's hand to fire his rifle, and I ruled that that would work, which effectively gave the mutants one way to bypass the "mutant lock" on the rifles.

Although we are only two sessions into the campaign, I am enjoying how the players are engaging with the setting.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Savage Gamma World #5

After the defeat of the Army of Dawn, our mutant heroes returned to their village and led them across the Barrier Peaks to set up camp near Truffaut's bar.

Not long afterwards, mutants from nearby villages reported being attacked by human raiders with firearms, who would drive the villagers off before seizing their food and materials - those who resisted were killed. Some mutants tracked the raiders back to their lair, and learned that they were based inside a half-buried metal giant at the place the locals named Titan's Beach. At Traffaut's request, Ah Meng, the head of the mutants, sent Kong, Rangup, Rex, Tom, and Vik (see PC profiles here) to eliminate the threat of the raiders.

After traveling for two days, our mutants arrived at Titan's beach as the sun was setting. There they found a metal giant, perhaps a hundred yards tall if he stood on his feet, almost completely buried in the sands of the beach, leaving only his head and two hands exposed. A semi-circle of stone obelisks surrounded the Titan. As they watched from the distance, a patrol of a dozen soldiers exited the mouth of the Titan via a rope bridge, and began their trek north.

As the mutants planned their next move, they were approached by an old woman, who called herself Mama Clay. Mama Clay told them that she had lived at Titan's beach for many years, and her peace and quiet were broken by the arrival of the humans a few weeks ago. When she learned that our mutants were here to get rid of the humans, she offered them a healing potion, and information about the newcomers.

Out mutants neutralised the two soldiers guarding the mouth of the Titan by means of distraction and surprise, but found that their rifles were locked from use by mutants. Vik began to get a throbbing headache, which he knew was caused by the proximity to non-organic source of energy. The mutants descended the ladder that led from the Titan's mouth down its throat. The ladder led to a large chamber with a glowing glyph on the floor; a large metal beam around a foot wide pierced the ceiling of the chamber and entered the floor, piecing through the middle of the glyph. Two mechanical creatures in the shape of spiders were working at the beam, trying to cut through it with some sort of tool that formed their mandible that emitted a bright light. When they noticed our mutants, they stopped their work and attacked, but were quickly disabled.

Our mutants found two doors that led from the chamber, one with the symbol of a helmet upon it, and the other one with a hexagon upon it. They decided to go through the door with the helmet symbol.

The door opened into a corridor that led to a smaller chamber whose floor was crisscrossed by a number of metal pipes, some of which are leaking a warm, opaque yellow liquid. A rhythmic, whooshing sound could be heard coming from the pipes, and more yellow liquid would leak from the pipes with each "whoosh". Two doors led from this room. Our mutants split up to explore: one door led to a ladder that led to a small room where there was a throne-like chair and a helmet suspended above it by a cord hanging from the ceiling; the other door led to a corridor that led to the soldiers' barrack.

Our mutants decided to try wearing the helmet, but as it was designed for humans, only Tom could wear it. As soon as he put the helmet on, Tom's body became paralysed, and his vision went dark; but as his eyes adjusted he realised that he was looking through the eye of the Titan! He found that he could move his eyes to look around, but not his body. The other mutants managed to rouse Tom by removing the helmet.

Our mutatns then made their plans to attack the six soldiers resting in their barracks. Rex charged into their room and leapt onto the table where the soldiers were sitting around and released his paralysing gas; all but one of the soldiers were felled by the gas, and when he tried to reach for his rifle he was knocked out by Rangup, who wore a gas mask he scavenged earlier. After searching the belongings of the soldiers for loot, our mutants exited the chamber from the door at the other side of the barrack.

The door led to a long corridor that led to a large chamber with a domed roof. Here they could see the metal beam once more piercing the roof of the chamber and through a large machine on the floor of the room. Pipes led from the walls to and out of the machine, which a few soldiers were repairing. When they noticed the mutants, the leader of the officer cried out an order for his men to attack.

Vik charged into the chamber first, and using his mutant power disintegrated the leader, and then fell unconscious himself from exhaustion. The other mutants followed, and after a hard fight managed to dispatch all the soldiers.

But before they could rest, the chamber began to lurch as the machine on the floor began to hum rhythmically. As our mutants struggled to keep their footing, they realised that the Titan was moving!

Kong hoisted the unconscious Vik over his shoulder, and together the party returned to the helmet room, where Tom once again put on the helmet. Once more he saw through the eyes of the Titan, and found that the Titan had waded into the sea. But as soon as the helmet had rested on Tom's head, the Titan stopped moving. This time, Tom found that he could control the movement of the Titan. He turned the Titan around, and walked back to shore. It took the mutants no time to decide that they should walk the Titan all the way back to their village, and use it as their new base.

Prepping and Running the Game

As Season 3 of our Savage Gamma World campaign follows the story of our previous campaign closely, I have decided to continue the numbering for our session reports.

One new thing I am trying out for this season is the use of a Mutation Deck to quick-generate new characters for players joining the campaign. I give a player a choice of playing a mutant human or a mutated animal, and a choice of psychic or elemental power (those are the choices provided in the cards). They draw two cards for the base mutation type and have the choice of one, then a choice of drawing two power cards in any combination and keeping one.

The scenario is from the OSR zine Knock! #1, and was originally more fantasy in flavour than sci-fi, but as with Expeditions to the Barrier Peaks showed us, genre-mixing was present in the early days of the hobby, and is something embraced by the current OSR community.

I was quite happy that the players managed to gain control of the Titan at the end of the session and wanted to use it as a home base for their village. However, they understood that a fully functional mecha will make them overpowered, and accepted it when I said that the Titan will run out of power once it reaches their village. They did ask about finding someone with the knowledge of reactivating the Titan and bypassing the lock on the rifles, which delighted me as now I have two story hooks and threads to use for future sessions.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Xenos Rampant and Space Hulk

For our monthly session we played a 4-player game of Xenos Rampant. The centrepiece of the game was Rick's Upzone terrain. The scenario had an Eldar force (commanded by Adrian and me) trying to destroy a Necron pyramid (defended by Rick and FG). A series of poor command rolls on the part of the Eldar players and excellent rolls by the Necron players made it a rather one-sided affair.

We then played two games of 1st Edition Space Hulk, with FG and I each taking turns to play the Space Marines. It's a testament to the quality of the scenario designers that both games pretty much came down to one die roll during the final turn. We hope to play more Space Hulk during our next session on September.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Legion Mk VI Tactical Squad

I have done pretty well this year (so far) in terms of not buying more new figures; I did buy and convert and paint a couple of sci-fi models, but since these were meant for the collection of my friends, it doesn't really count. But I had to make an exception for the new Warhammer The Horus Heresy Mk VI Space Marines figures.

My first Warhammer 40K figures were the plastic "beakie" space marines box set, which I split with wahj; we painted them for use with the Battlesuit board game; mine were painted in white, while his were painted in black. Good times.

Years later, when the multi-part plastic Mk VII space marines became available, I decided to start expanding my army, but not wanting to paint a whole new army in white again, I decided to go for an easier paint scheme of Dark Angels green. The old beakies went to Adrian, but I've always had a soft spot for them.

So when the new "true scale" Mk VI marines were released, I decided to get them, and once again I split the box, this time with FG. In my fluff they represent the Veteran Squad in my chapter, and have the same colour scheme as the rest of the chapter. I did however give them the classic 80s stripe down the middle of the helmet.

These models are not exactly easy to build. The pauldrons with the studs actually come in two pieces and have to be glued together - you can see the seam in the photo if you look closely. The arms and weapons come in three pieces: left arm, right arm, and both hands holding the bolter; it took a bit of fiddling to make everything line up. The models are "true scale", and therefore stand taller than the Mk VII models, especially the earlier Mk VII models. The box comes with 32mm round bases, but I based them on some thinner 25mm round bases I had from another purchase, which compensated a little. They are built pretty much as is, "out of the box", but I replaced the sergeant's plasma pistol arm with a "modern" one to make him look more in line with the rest of the force.

I am very pleased with how they turned out, and hope to filed them in a game of Grimdark Future or Xenos Rampant soon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

John Wick #3 and #4

Having escaped from The Provincial with Yulian, our party decided to take him to New Windsor in Jersey, where he claimed he had a safe house. They drove north, switch cars (stole a car) to mask their trail, but were still pursued by the Russian mob. After a gunfight in the suburbs, they barely made it to the safe house, where the gangsters ceased their pursuit.

Here they were taken in by Dmitri Pavlov, Yulian's uncle, who was formerly in the Tarasov crime family. Although retired, he still commanded a measure of respect from the Tarasov family, but he knew it would only gain his nephew a respite and not escape from Viggo's wrath. They informed Bruce of their location, and the fugitive policeman joined them (see PC profiles here). Soon afterwards, John Wick arrived at the door to politely inform Dmitri that Viggo had given Dmitri 24 hours to surrender his nephew.

Yulian made a desperate attempt to save himself and called Viggo to beg for mercy, but it was useless. Viggo then spoke to the party, offering to help Joseph and Mori pardoned by the High Table, and to use his political influence to exonerate Bruce, and to give Jason a job in the Tarasov family if they could find the person buying information from Yulian, and to eliminate him in a way that would leave a clear message that Viggo was the one who gave the order.

Realising there was no escape, Yulian beseeched our party to help get his girlfriend Charlie to safety, promising that they will find clues to who was really responsible for the murder of Roger Zelany through her. He explained that someone had approached his girlfriend at the exotic dance club where she worked to offer to buy information regarding the activities of the Tarasov family at a generous price. The money and information would be transferred through Charlie, so Yulian did not know whom he was selling the information to, except that they were from the Calabrian mafia. Charlie would hand part of the money to Yulian, while she deposited the rest in a number of bank accounts. When Roger Zelany, an associate with the Calabrian mafia was murdered, Yulian feared the worst, and decided to seek the protection of the FBI. He now feared that Charlie would be implicated, and asked the party to get her to safety, beyond the reach of both the Tarasov family and the Calabrian mafia. He handed the party a pendant he wore as a proof they were from him, together with a safety deposit key, and left a message on Charlie's phone, and awaited his fate

The party armed themselves from Dmitri's weapon cache, and took his car to the dance club. At the carpark they noticed that someone else was watching the club. They entered the club and waited for Charlie to come on stage. Soon afterwards two suspicious men also entered the club. When Charlie finally came on, Bruce moved to the stage and flashed Yulian's pendant at her, and the party left, hoping to enter through the back door and link up with Charlie. However, they found two men waiting in ambush at the alley behind the club. A firefight broke out, followed by sounds of gunshots from the front of the club. The party broke in through the back door to find dancers fleeing. They rushed to the floor of the club to find Charlie being held by two armed men.

Joseph quickly took down one of the gunmen, as well as two more who came through the front door, while Bruce knocked the other one out with a flying kick. They then grabbed Charlie and left, just when the sounds of police sirens were heard.

They explained the situation with Yulian to Charlie, and then drove her to a bus station, where she could take a bus out of town. Charlie told them that she too did not know who in the Calabrian mafia was buying the information from Yulian, but that the two people who contacted her each time were Ricardo, who Joseph shot, and Gabriel, who was knocked out by Bruce.

The party now realised that they had to get to Gabriel to learn who their boss was. Fortunately, Bruce had knew which hospital the police would bring Gabriel to for treatment of his wounds. Driving to the hospital, they stole a couple of orderly uniforms, put Bruce on a gurney, and wheeled him right up to the cop guarding Gabriel at the emergency room, where Bruce knocked him out. They then uncuffed Gabriel from his bed and placed him on the gurney, while Bruce put on the cop's uniform and placed him on Gabriel's bed, and fled the place.

Once they were in the car, the party gave Gabriel the choice of either telling them what he knew for some money and a ride to the train station, or be turned over to either the cops or his boss, who would no doubt punish him for his failed mission. Gabriel considered his options, and decided to spill the beans.

Francesco Cortone, a rogue capo of the Calabrian mafia, had taken advantage of their weak head of the family to plan a hostile takeover of the Tarasov family's territories. He did so in collaboration with certain corrupt persons in law enforcement, aiming to use police powers to help him take down the Russians. To this end he bought information about the Tarasov family's businesses, so he could send his men to attack them. These were small skirmishes that did not really affect the Tarasov family's bottomline, but calculated to give the sense that the Russian mob presence in the city was a problem, which would make it harder for the High Table to shield them when the police decided to move against them. Gabriel informed the party that Francesco would be meeting the contact person from law enforcement at a chemical warehouse in Jersey before dawn that day.

Our party planned their attack. After stopping and breaking into a sports goods store for rope, Joseph and Bruce rappelled down the roof of the warehouse and crashed through the second floor windows to reach the catwalk, yelling: Viggo says hello! as they landed. They surprised the thugs guarding the place, who were quickly felled by Bruce's shotgun and Joseph's assault rifle. Through the ground floor windows Jason could see more gunmen rushing to the stairs to get to the catwalk, so he drove the car through the shutter door of the warehouse and joined the fight.

Joseph took down the thugs who swarmed out of the corner office to repel them in a fashion that would make John Wick proud, but the party were stopped in their tracks by a gunman shooting from inside the office, whom Bruce recognised to be Frank Krothers, the District Attorney's bodyguard.

From inside the office, Francesco called out to the party, offering to match and exceed whatever deal Viggo was offering them, but the party was not in a mood to deal. Jason dashed back into the car, and drove it into the steel columns holding up the mezzaine office, causing the office to tilt and Franceso to tumble through the window. Frank Krothers managed to grab him and begin to haul him back, but the brief exposure was enough for Joseph to shoot and kill Francesco. With Francesco dead, Frank saw no reason to stay, and made his escape.

Their job completed, the party called Viggo, and were picked up. Viggo then informed them that he would soon give them an "impossible task" to perform as he completes his revenge against the Calabrian mafia...

Prepping and Running the Game

I compiled the last two sessions in this post as I am way behind my blogging schedule.

The third session of the campaign was based on the modules Badabing Badaboom! and Fuhgeddabouti!. Both provide a central plot, but are valuable for the vignettes, which I picked for my purpose. 

The final session was based on the module Burning Crosses, which is a short investigative scenario that provided me with some idea to link Yulian back to the Calabrian mafia without making it too direct.

The scene at the hospital however was improvised. When the players realise they should have taken Gabriel away for questioning instead of letting the police take him, the needed to get to him. I initially said that Bruce knew which station he would be brought to, but immediately realised that it would be more appropriate for him to be brought to a hospital for treatment first; the players agreed, and we moved the action to the hospital. Once the action moved there it was easy to set the scene and orientate ourselves, since the hospital Emergency Room is so widely depicted in media we all had a common understanding of how things look like without me spending too much time describing things.

This was also the case for Dmitri's home, where we all knew what everything looked like, down to how the front door looked. This is one advantage of playing in a modern campaign, which I hadn't really appreciated until now.

The rules were quite apt for our purpose, allowing the characters to do some really cinematic stuff like doing double double-taps in a single round, or running and gunning down four thugs in one round. If we ever do another modern campaign again, I may use the same rules.

For the next campaign we will be returning to Savage Gamma World, when I plan to have one or two guest players join us for each session. More on that in a future post.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Hell & Uncivil Disorder and Small World

We continued our monthly session with a Spanish Civil War game using the Hell & Uncivil Disorder rules. The rules are rather loosely written and ambiguous in places, and we had to make decisions when situations came up during the game which were not specifically dealt with in the game.

The scenario we used was from Atacar es Vencer!, which contains 12 scenarios for platoon-plus size forces, with one or two tanks or armoured cars in some of the scenarios. Though not written for the Hell & Uncivil Disorder rules, it worked pretty well, and provided a tense scenario for both sides. The Republicans managed to fight the Nationalists to a draw, despite having lower quality troops and lacking a tank or any anti-tank guns.

My interest in the Spanish Civil War was sparked many years ago, when I watched this episode of Alas! Smith & Jones:

It took me decades to finally find a set of rules that comes close to what I want a game of SCW combat to feel like, and it's doubly satisfying that this is a group project with figures and vehicles painted by four of us.

For our second game we played a game of Small World, one of my all-time favourite boardgame. I came last in a three-player game, despite chalking up a decent 99 points by the end of 10 turns. I have asked for a rematch, and maybe we will play this again during our August session.