Sunday, January 29, 2023

Chariots and Cars

Adrian, FG and I met up for the first of what we hope to be a monthly wargaming session today. My plan for these monthly sessions is to run two multi-player games each time.

The first game we played was the new edition of Tribal. I set up two sides, each with one Warlord and three units, and it was a straight-up fight.

FG's warlord made an impetuous charge into the enemy line, and while he scattered the enemy marksmen unit, he was in turn charged by Adrian's warlord and was killed.

For the second game we played a three-player game of Gaslands. My buggy took some damage early in the game, but soon took the lead while Adrian and FG's cars got into a ramming contest.

I maintained the lead until I made a mistake and approached the third gate on the wrong side and had to slow down, allowing FG's car to close the gap.

In the final turns of the game Adrian gave up trying to win the race and instead came after my car.

Literally just one move away from the finishing line my buggy was rammed and flipped into the gantry, wrecking the vehicle while FG's car limped to a win.

As with the previous sessions it was a blast, and we are planning to play again in the future, hopefully with more players and vehicles.

The next session is scheduled in three weeks, when we hope to try out Xenos Rampant (which I was a playtester for) and The Relief of Luckpore.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Dystopian Wars East India Merchant Company Naval Battle Group

A few weeks ago my friend Dave was at a flea market and he saw a box of the old Dystopian Wars East India Merchant Company Naval Battle Group going for S$5. I was not even aware that this faction existed, but it was too good a bargain to pass up, and I asked him to help me grab it. It turned out the previous owner had already primed and magnetised most of the models, so it was a quick job to get the lot (minus the airship, which I still haven't decided if I will paint) painted.

The models have the aesthetics of the old edition of Dystopian Wars, which I much prefer to the more modern look of the current edition. I decided to lean into the "just put buildings on a hull" aesthetics by painting the ships in the "black and white houses" theme.

Example of a Black and White House in Singapore

The black and white houses are a relic of the colonial era - although there are modern houses built in the style too - and I thought it would be a nice in-joke for our group. They also bear some resemblance to the "dazzle camouflage" used during WW1.

Ottoman and East India Company ships clash in the Arabian Sea

The acquisition of the box set also prompted me to finish painting the tiny flyer tokens for my Ottoman fleet, make a few more islands, and to finally buy a sea mat - in this case a piece of quilt fabric from a craft store, which wasn't exactly cheap, but affordable compared to the price of a dedicated wargaming mat. The mat and islands will also prove useful for Thalassa, a set of rules for trireme warfare that comes with the January 2023 issue of Wargames Illustrated, which I have ordered.

The arrival of the East India Company ships has also prompted FG to restart his work on the French, and Adrian on his Prussians. This also shift our theatre of conflict from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Sea.

I have also revised the set of rules I have been tinkering with for this period, and if things go according to plan we will be having a naval bash n April.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Dwarrowdeep #13

Our heroes were having their midday meal at the Quarters District one Drakonis day when they were summoned to Gund Felek, which in those days was not yet occupied. The Foxes - an adventuring band from Orlais - had apparently triggered some sort of arcane ward while exploring the district, and become frozen.

Our heroes (see PC profiles here) were unable to to disable the ward and free The Foxes, but with the light from their veilfire lantern they were able to see a the magical glyph that surrounded the Orlesians, and a warning written in Elvish: Here are our leaders Falos and Harel entombed. Begone lest you disturb their rest.

Zunn surmised that the ward was left behind by the Dalish elves perhaps five centuries ago, and that for it to be still active it must be connected to an artefact of great power. Sure enough, the light of the lantern revealed an arcane thread on the floor leading from the glyph to deeper into Gund Felek.

Following the arcane thread, our heroes found it led to a set of stone doors with the relief of a dwarven warrior upon it. Written under the image were the words, in dwarven runes: Emulate the Paragon. Taking the words literally, Lorca imitated the pose of the dwarven warrior, and the doors opened.

The doors opened into a large hall of many pillars. The arcane thread on the floor led to another door on the far wall. When our heroes crossed the threshold, the door closed behind them, and once more they saw the warning in Elvish written on the floor. Our heroes ignored the warning and stepped forward, whereupon the ethereal forms of two elven warriors sprung forth from the arcane line; simultaneously, two of the pillars began to shift and take on the form of giant dwarven warriors, and the four began to attack them.

For a while it seemed our heroes would fall to the combined attacks, until Zunn came upon a pedestal in a corner of the hall where a glowing blue orb was ensconced. Zunn lifted the orb, and the dwarven warriors froze, and the others were soon able to despatch the elven warriors.

Proceeding beyond the door in the far wall, our heroes entered into a tomb where they found sarcophagus of the paragon and his wife. The arcane thread on the ground led to a large standing mirror at the end of the room. Shining the light of their lantern onto the mirror, our heroes saw several glowing spots on the top of the mirror's frame that Bertil recognised as a constellation which the Avvar used for navigation by night. Judging that the hour when the constellation would rise in the horizon was near, our heroes waited. When the hour arrived, the mirror's surface began to shimmer, and it soon became a portal that led into a cave.

Passing through the mirror, Boggart entered into the cave. Here, upon stone plinth, he found the remains of two elves, which the inscriptions upon the plinth told were Falos and Harel. One of the elves was still clad in a mail shirt made of Red Steel, which indicated that he was an Arcane Warrior. Zunn claimed the mail shirt as his heritage.

When Boggart attempted to explore beyond the cave, he drew the attention of a blighted bear, and was forced to retreat back through the mirror. The bear followed the party back to the mirror, but was unable to pass through. Our heroes allowed the bear to destroy the mirror, whereupon the portal was closed, and the arcane thread leading from it vanished.

Returning to where they left The Foxes, the found the Orlesians sitting down to a dinner of roasted chicken, which they offered to share with their saviours.

Prepping and Running the Game

This scenario was cobbled together using a few puzzles and encounters from various GM guides I have accumulated over the years. The chief goal was to allow Zunn to get the Red Steel armour, which will allow him to take advantage of his Arcane Warrior specialisation.

I felt that this and the previous few sessions have been a little disjointed, and I asked my players at the end of the session what they would like the direction of the campaign to be, and one of them suggested some political intrigue.

We have a break of three weeks between sessions, which will give me some time to prepare for the next arc of the campaign.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Dwarrowdeep #12

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was mostly role-playing, with just one single combat, so I have decided to skip right to the commentary.

I based the session off the adventure Under Dovla Mountain, found in The Malady Chronicles compilation.

With the coming of spring, more immigrants - both the casteless Dusters and dwarves from the craftsmen caste - from Orzammar have arrived.

Our session began with the PCs being asked to investigate the death of a dwarf from the miner caste in the Ore District. The Ore District had been retaken from the Darkspawn recently, but due (ostensibly) to a lack of skilled miners, mining had not begun at a large scale; at the current moment only a single mixed crew, comprising of members of the miner-caste House Oskar and members of the Duster clan Fingal were working there, with the former providing the expertise, and the latter supplementing the manpower.

When they arrived at the site, our PCs (Bertil, Lorca, Varosh (formerly Dave the Dwarf) and Zunn) found that the dwarves had not been mining, but were in fact excavating a large relief that was believed to be a portal to the buried treasures of an ancient dwarf king. A week ago, Rhinn Oskar, son of the head of House Oskar, had fallen off a scaffolding to his death. Bollol Fingal, a young dwarf from the Duster clan, was the belayer for Rhinn, and although the incident was accepted by all as an accident, there was an underlying resentment among the Oskars, particularly in Rhinn's two sisters.

I had meant this to be a chiefly role-playing session, aimed at exploring the dwarven caste system, and their relationship with outsiders; Vorash was a Duster, while Lorca was raised by dwarves, and was together with Bertil and Zunn greatly respected by the dwarves of the thaig. I had hoped that they will use their standing to reconcile the two families.

However, my players thought this was a murder mystery session, proceeded to grill the dwarves from Clan Fingal, alienating them and eventually causing a public falling out. Soon afterwards a blighted giant worm attack caused a cave-in and cut the community off from the rest of the thaig, and an infectious disease struck the community, quickly incapacitating most of the members and making self-rescue impossible.

When it seemed liked the two families would both die out without reconciling, the head of the House Oskar asked the PCs if they would help. It was Varosh who proposed they did so over ale, and so Oskar broke out the good ale that he had reserved for celebrating the completion of their work, and invited the Fingal Clan to join them.

The community was eventually rescued by the next supply convoy coming from the main thaig.

This was not a "successful" adventure or session, but I think I could have steered the players better, but I have since come to accept the outcome as being thematic to the Dragon Age setting. Heroes sometimes make the wrong choice and others suffer the consequences. Perhaps it showed the players that although their characters were respected in the thaig, as humans and elves they will still be viewed as outsiders.

Monday, January 02, 2023

Battletech: Clan Invasion Expansion Box Set

First painted figures for the year.

A few weeks ago FG passed me the models from the Battletech Clan Invasion box set because I wanted to paint up a Madcat. Over the long weekend I decided I would try to paint up the remainder of the box since I have chosen a relatively easy paint scheme. This is the result.

I don't know what the names of the mechs are, or how many points they represent in the game - we are looking at at least three versions of the Battletech game now - but hopefully they will see some action soon regardless.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

2022 in Review and Looking Ahead

We've had a pretty good year in terms of gaming this year, with 28 sessions of RPG (across four campaigns and four one-shots), and four session of wargames.

The biggest change in my gaming calendar is my decision to schedule one week per month to a wargaming session on Sunday in lieu of an RPG session on the Monday after; prepping and hosting for both types of games takes a lot of time, so it is not viable for me to do both back-to-back. 

The decision to schedule regular wargames is prompted partly by the acquisition of a few sets of new rules which I have made over the past few months, some of which are shown above. Like many wargamers (including all the other guys in my group) I own several sets of painted armies, most of them for both sides, but the lack of time has prevented me from playing with all of them. In the recent years I have moved away from more complex rules to simpler ones, with easy-to-remember mechanics, and also towards rules with a grid-based mechanic, which simplifies scenario design, terrain-placement, as well as actual play. Playing games with shorter play-time also allows us to play two different games during a single afternoon and allow the other guys to run the games they like to play.

Of course, RPGs will continue to constitute the majority of my gaming.

I expect to run the Dwarrowdeep campaign into March, ending with the PCs at level 8 (and the Master level of their respective specialisations). In April and May I hope to run a short Covert Ops campaign in the wake of the John Wick movie. After that I am looking at a few options, the choice of which will depend on whether the Blood Sword kickstarter delivers as planned, or whether Green Ronin will release any module for their The Expanse line - if neither of those things happen we will probably play another season of our Savage Gamma World campaign.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a new set of rules or figures coming into the picture unexpectedly as with the previous years. And one thing that FG and I have an eye on in the horizon is the release of Quar by Wargames Atlantic.

I wish you and your family the best in the coming year.