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.

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!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

No Honor among Traitors - Chaos Space Marine campaign idea

With the recent Chaos Marine releases - Traitor's Hate, Wrath of Magnus and now Traitor Legions, there are likely a lot of players looking to get started with new Chaos Marine armies.  I had some thoughts on a campaign to let you build up your army along with its narrative over time and give you some modelling inspiration along the way.

This is a Warhammer 40K escalation campaign/league focusing on an aspect unique to Chaos Space Marines - the Chaos Boon table.
Warbands: All armies must be chosen from Codex: Chaos Space Marines, including such supplements as Traitor Legions.  If the characters involved have the Champion of Chaos rule, it should be OK.  So armies of Khorne Daemonkin for example do not have this rule and should not be used.  Armies may not include a Daemon Prince unless they have had one ascend through the Dark Apotheosis result from the boon table.  Decide if you want to allow allies, especially non-Chaos Space Marine allies for your campaign.  
Boons of the Dark Gods:  The Chaos Boon table is central to the campaign.  Champions are vying against each other for power in the Eye and the favor of the gods, and this table is how that favor is bestowed.  Unlike in regular games where the benefits of a boon fade after a battle, here the boon is permanent - assuming the character survives.  
If a character has a Gift of Mutation, roll for it the first time the character is fielded and note that result for future games as well (again assuming the character survives).
If a character with existing boons is killed during a game, after the game roll to see if they are able to survive and come back.  For an independent character they succeed on a 2+, while a non-independent character only succeeds on a 4+.  
  • -1 to roll if they were killed by an attack that would have caused Instant Death to them
  • -1 to roll if they were killed by Perils of the Warp
 If the character fails the roll, that character with their accumulated boons cannot be used anymore.  (Of course you can still use the same model for a new champion if desired.)  The slain champion can however still be useful interred in a dreadnought (see below).
Spawnhood: If the character has been turned into a Chaos Spawn, they do not get to roll to come back.  However, you may now take that Chaos Spawn for free in future games, not taking up any force organization slot and outside of any detachments or formations.  If that Chaos Spawn is killed in a game, it can come back for the next game on a 4+ (-1 to roll if was killed by an attack that would have caused Instant Death to it).  If the character that fell to spawndom had a Mark of Chaos, the spawn has the same mark.
Dark Apotheosis:  If a character ascends to daemonhood in the game this is just an intermediate form.  Add a bullet point under the Dark Apotheosis result on the Chaos Boon table reading, "If the champion had any accumulated boons, apply them to the Daemon Prince."
The blessed character can no longer be taken in their previous mortal form, but you can now buy them as a Daemon Prince for future games.  If the character was marked they will be a daemon of the corresponding type.  The Daemon Prince keeps any boons previously accumulated, but of course as Daemon Princes do not have the Champion of Chaos rule themselves, it will not accumulate any further boons.  Otherwise you can build out the Daemon Prince as normal, but it is recommended that you build them the same way each time.  If a Daemon Prince is killed in a game, it can automatically come back for future games. NOTE: In this campaign Cultist Champions cannot attain this result; re-roll for them.  
Dreadnoughts/Helbrutes: If a non-cultist character with accumulated boons was slain (but not turned into a spawn or a prince) and failed his roll to survive, he can be placed into a dreadnought.  The fallen champion keeps any accumulated boons but cannot acquire any new ones.  The dreadnought is considered a character for purposes of challenges but does not have the Champion of Chaos rule.  Some boons function differently as a vehicle:
  • Fragment of Immortality - The first explode damage result the vehicle suffers in each game is ignored and the vehicle instead takes 1 hull point.
  • Bloated - +1 Hull Point
  • Crystalline Body - +1 Hull Point
  • Mechanoid - Improve all armour values by 1
  • Cosmic Fate - Can force enemy to re-roll damage result, but must accept second result
  • Meteoric Charge - Do two Hammer of Wrath hits instead of one
  • Voice of Horus - Counts as being equipped with Dirge Casters
  • Masochism - It Will not Die
If the character interred in the dreadnought was a psyker they can have up to the same mastery level they previously had, at a cost of 30pts per level.  Death and near death are traumatic, so it is reasonable to purchase them at a lower mastery level if you so desire. 

If the character interred in the dreadnought had a Mark of Chaos, apply the same mark to the vehicle at no cost, even though they normally cannot take Marks.  For Mark of Nurgle, treat as +1 Hull Point.

If the character interred was a Possessed Champion, the dreadnought may take the Daemonic Possession upgrade for free.     

If the dreadnought is destroyed in a game, after the game roll for survival as you would for a character.  On a 2+ it can be rebuilt and used again.  If the vehicle exploded, apply a -1 to the roll.

Advancement: Unit champions may advance in their warband.  
A power-armored unit champion with two or more earned boons (not counting any from Gift of Mutation) can be promoted to a Chosen Champion, Possessed Champion, Warp Talon Champion or Terminator Champion.  They keep their boons, but gain the new base statline and can choose different equipment and upgrades as appropriate for their new position.  If they had a Mark of Chaos they should retain the same mark. 

A non-cultist, non-daemon unit champion with four or more earned boons (not counting any from Gift of Mutation) can be promoted to an independent character.  They can become a Chaos Lord, Sorcerer, Warpsmith or Dark Apostle as you prefer.  If they had a Mark of Chaos they should retain the same mark, but otherwise may re-select equipment as appropriate and retain any previously accumulated boons.  
Missions:  Any missions should work, either use standard missions, develop missions for the campaign, or have players decide on what mission to use for each game.
Escalation: You can of course start at any level, but I would recommend starting out small, such as at 500pts with Combat Patrol-like restrictions and gradually moving up from there.  How fast you escalate will depend upon your group.
Winning: By the end of the campaign each player should have an army with an impressive history and a lot of love (and hate) poured into it, so everyone wins!  However, some other victory conditions are probably appropriate.  Work out with your group what you want to use to measure overall victory.

Notes on detachments and formations:
  • The Chosen of Abaddon: Blessed by the Chaos Gods - change this to read, "Chaos Lords and Sorcerers in this Formation may re-roll results on the Chaos Boon table but must accept the second result."
  • Black Crusade Detachment: Path to Glory - change this to read, "If a model in this Detachment with the Champion of Chaos special rule slays a model in close combat with more boons than the model from this Detachment has, it may absorb one boon of its choice from the slain model.  If the slain model survives its post-game test, it still has lost this boon.  This does not replace the victor's normal roll on the Chaos Boon table if any."

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