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16 September, 2020

MORE RESULTS OF “SOME POSITIVE FOCUS”


 

 

 

 
I have been pretty busy.. nose down for a while now, head buried, with arms elbow deep in plastic sprues, as I finally got down to tackling Necromunda.. full on, no holds barred... all or nothing. So I figured it was time to carry on the last two posts with an updated and in depth thread on exactly why I am enjoying my hobby so much right now.

To surmise in a single paragraph. My love affair with Hive Primus - Palatine (and lately the dark events leading to the eventual fall of Hive Arcos) started many years ago: seven years under half a lifetime ago in fact. A while ago, around the same time the Corvus virus entered everyone`s lives. Hillers poor old Dad`s funeral was a while passed, all the official solicitor paperwork etc had been sorted. And some time later we discovered he had put aside a special gift for Hils and myself. A little bit of money ONLY to be spent of something very special for ourselves. He wanted it to be for something that meant a lot to us.. a little treat (we wouldn`t ordinarily be able to afford) to be treasured. A small memento of his memory. A lovely touch from a lovely old man I thought, and it moved me deeply. This ol` fella could talk about his experiences as a child during the war (like Uncle Albert in "Only Fools and Horses"), or his life working on the docks of Felixstowe, or his memories of trains back in the glorious age of steam. So this little `separate` will proviso deserved a special appreciation. For my half of the windfall I invested it wisely into "Necromunda: Dark Uprising." A game I never in a million years thought I might one day own in any magnitude, yet had silently lusted after it ever since I saw it being played So I bought it, the seven gang box sets, and the beautiful hardback core book and four of its (optional/essential) core system campaign books.

.... and the game sat there. I knew this was special. Beyond special. So  wanted to be sure that when I cracked open the lid, I would be in a position to finish what I started. This article is about my experiences with this rich and colourful.. grimdark pageant.

 

Let me start by saying, this is (to my best of knowledge) the biggest box set Games Workshop has ever made. Weighing in at around 20 lbs. Its a collection of a myriad of terrain sprues, allowing you to create a fully realised three dimensional multi levelled 2` by 2` play area (which can be doubled up in size by purchasing the exquisite 4 tile plastic terrain floor base set - which I did). In addition, the box comes with its own heavy campaign book, with special Dark Uprising Campaign rules included.. just for this box. All the dice, templates, and stat cards needed; including blank ones for making up your own homebrew gangs, personalities and monsters. A nice touch I thought. Then we come to the two complete gangs you need to play the campaign itself (two gangs... both unique to the box set). Its fair say this box contains everything you need play the Arcos Uprising from day one right through to its climatic conclusion 4000 or so days later. Trust me when I say, if you are a gamer willing to commit to a single project for a good year or so, this box contains all you need. Its truly epic and utterly stunning in its sheer brilliant scope and potential for fantastic game immersion. Part narrative skirmish wargame, part role playing game, this game does what it says on the tin.. as the old Ronsil Paint advert says.

 In brief, the campaign centres around a group of Hive workers who deal with turning human remains into re-processed food product, necessary to feed the teeming billions who live on the planet (but like in the film Soylent Green). But unbeknownst to the disgruntled, underpaid  depressed workers, a dark evil has crept into the lower Hives factory levels, into the worker guild`s hearts and minds, known to the as "The Lord of Skin and Sinew." And before they even realise it, Korne has them in its grip... which is the TRUE identity of this dark entity. But by this time it is too late. By now few even care. They are fed, free of slavery, and enjoying a new level of debauchery, and thus the cannibalistic Corpse Grinder Cult is born. The lords above are unaware anything is amiss in the lower Hives until it is almost too late: and scramble to put down the growing unrest... and eventual uprising as quietly as possible (not wanting their inability to control and master the Hive to reach Imperial ears). So they send in their own personal police force to deal with things... The Subjugator clades of the Palanite Enforcers: a virtual army, almost as powerful and skilled at the Space Marine Corps themselves. This is by far the darkest, grimmest tale of woe Games Workshop has ever unleashed on its customers... and I love it.

 


Now, eventually every Necromunda gamer is going to thirst for more options to add to his or her game. Foolish hobbyist might try to `play the completist` and buy the other seven gangs box sets (Escher, Goliath, Orlock, Van Saar, Delaque, Cawdor, and Genestealer Cult). But you won't need any of these until you have exhausted all the fun this Dark Uprising Campaign had to offer, but the exponential possibilities of including them (in time) makes these a worthy addition to be sure. Just don't make the mistake of buying the gang boxes because you can`t help yourself. Buy them because you are ready for them  and need them for your game, not just because they're there, whispering seductively "buy me." Same applies to the additional hardback tomes. Each will add new layers to your Nercomunda games, but again trust me: you`ll have your hands full  getting to grips with the big book that come in the Dark Uprising box let alone any more stuff, not for a very, very long time. Me, I have it all because a kindly ol` man left us some money to do something special with, and so I put my gift into taking up a subject I knew I was going to get a lot of pleasure out of.. God willing, for many, many years to come. But even my spare figure sets and expansion books are sitting firmly on the shelf, where they will remain.. still sealed in their cellophane until I have explored the big box campaign to utter exhaustion.

Interesting thing about the newest rendering of the Necromunda game. Some gamers may well remember the original version that hit the stores in 1995. It was fantastic for the time and caught the imagination of  many vivid grimdark hobbyiets. Then in 217 the game was rereleased, but the gaming public was largely unhappy with this newer version, which came on a flat board, so it felt more like a sci-fi boardgame (like Zombicide or Massive Darkness etc). "oh man, where is the 3D terrain the original game came with?" they all cried. So Games Workshop listened to their public outrage, quietly retired the game.... redesigned it from the ground up, and bought out "Dark Uprising" COMPLETE WITH ALL THE 3D TERRAIN ANY BOY COULD EVER WISH FOR. "Oh Man, I can`t afford that, it's too expensive" the public all cried.

*chuckles, and shakes my head* You just can`t win sometimes. Of all the editions Ive ever seen, this is by far the best. But I won't lie, the price tag on that big box is simply huge. You have to know you want this game badly to be able to afford it`s humongous recommended price tag. But is it worth it.. YES. But only if you really REALLY plan to get your money`s worth out of it. I liken it to buying an expensive Hornby model train set. If you just want to dabble with trains for a while, or buy a set from your kid at Christmas. Then buy a nice affordable set that fits your wallet. But if you have a passion for trains and think you are going to spend many happy years immersing into this brave new venture.... then sure, go all out and buy one of the deluxe box train set boxes, and let your grand layout build slowly from there.. adding a bit at a time, as time and funds allow. You have a life time to enjoy, so take your time and love and appreciate every moment... don`t just horde stuff.

 


However, £150 will simply be too steep an entry fee for many to buy into this Necromunda set. With today's throw away society of buy a game, toss it aside a few months later.. it certainly won't be for most people. But if you want a good, complete, solo playable, fully fleshed out thematic campaign, containing a deluxe box of treasures, with enough delights to keep you enthralled and focussed for a very long time to come, with ample potential to expand upon as you go...  then this one is worth saving your pennies to buy: because it really does contain everything a sci-fi grimdark player could ever wish for in his or her wildest dreams... including an awesome rules and campaign system well worthy of taking the time to master. What`s more, if you happen to own any of the Battle System terrain sets, that stuff could almost have been tailor made to enhance to your Necromunda experience.

Much of the Necromunda world ethos has already been defined through years of existing gamer input. Sadly this means the majority of stuff you see will look like carbon copies of the same game. That`s a problem with Games Workshop miniatures. HIGHLY detailed though they are, and demands a considerable skill level to paint to the standard norm.. which is second to none (just like with Warhammr 40K collections)  it can end up all looking a bit samey.. as every collector models using the same GW paints and washes, uses the same techniques, and usually paint to the official codex of colour schemes laid down as standard canon in the books. I wanted to get away from that a little bit. Does anyone remember the Joss Whedon series "Firefly?" It was a cool hardcore science fiction setting, which had a distinctly wild west feel to it. In fact Joss himself says the series was a dressed up retelling of the a defeated South right after the events of the American Civil War... set to a future setting. So it's got tone elements of sheriffs and deputy marshals, gun slingers, home stead ranchers, outlaws, roving gangs, small shanty towns, and the inevitable bank and train heists, all thrown in. Now put that in a Necromunda Hive world (and outlying wastes) and you have yourself a real `Edge of the Empire` setting in which to base your games. And what`s more you can start to assemble and create your `gangs` to recreate this unique feel. It's put me in a euphoric state of rapture for sure, and has me as motivated about this venture as Greg is for his Samurai.

I`ve not been very active on the blogs lately (yes Ive been enjoying assembling and painting my cool stuff), but mostly this has been for a few reasons. The new Google blogger interface is not only hard to use in an enjoyable way..but because of my slow internet speed, makes doing anything take waaaay longer than it used to, especially if I want to add lots of nice pictures and photos.  I can tell you now, if it  weren`t for Greg and how much pleasure he has bought to TGC, I would have left blogging entirely... in disgust, and gone back to running a paid, dedicated Weebly website. On top of this, I`ve simply been enjoying playing a lot of big table top games and painting hundreds of figures this last several months (none of which has made it to the blog). The motivation (with this horrible new blogger interface) has diminished a lot of the pleasure for me. But also... no, not burn out, far from it. But everyone`s been super busy lately, and without their enthusiastic input, I have been finding many of my normal TGC ideas have been taking a back seat as of late... simmering on the back burner, rather than brewing away at a full boil. You could call it laziness on my part, but that would be very far from the truth. I`ve just been doing a lot behind the scenes, but for myself.. and most of it to further and indulge the solitaire part of my hobby.

So nothing is wrong, nothing is amiss. Priorities have shifted slightly over the last while, and who knows what tomorrow will bring. More of the same TGC  shenanigans' as normal, with a few new subjects to write about?  Or perhaps even more diversity? Only time will tell hehe. That`s one of the wonderful things about our hobby. Different things grab our attention at different times. I think the key here is never to drop a thing..... just set it aside sometimes, until the desire to see it live again, returns with full driving vengeance.

 

Stevie

 

PS  I had a lot more photos to add. It just wouldn`t let me put them in this time.

05 September, 2020

THE RESULT OF “SOME POSITIVE FOCUS”

 

OK, I've spent quite some time in a zen-like state gazing at my navel and decided that it's confession time.

As much as I am passionate about the gaming genres that I have already shared here in The Game Cupboard and over on our sister blog The Emerald musketeers, there's one subject that I hold in even great esteem but haven't mentioned yet. Even when the decision was made to open The Cupboard doors a little wider and allow folks to see a more diverse selection of our hobby interests, I wasn't quite sure that this was the right time to introduce my personal favourite topic – but the new campaign has given me the opportunity thanks to its 'open world' approach, so if you're sitting comfortably, I'll begin.........

Graeme Davis is on record saying “"The East was never officially opened up by GW. They stuck a toe in the water – after Kagemusha, the Shogun mini series and the 80s fashion for Japanese characters on T-shirts, there was a lot of interest in feudal Japan among 80s geeks. There was the short-lived Oriental Heroes range, and the Perrys did a few ninja minis, but almost nothing in the way of text. I proposed an Oriental Heroes vs. hobgoblins battle box (working title: Bakemono’s Revenge) but the battle boxes were dropped after McDeath. Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, authors of the “Way of the Tiger” gamebooks, were commissioned to create a Nippon supplement for WFRP1. I was one of the people who looked over the original "manuscripts" when they turned it in, and everyone agreed it didn’t nail the WFRP tone. It was more like an adaptation of FGU’s Bushido to use WFRP1 rules. It languished in a “to be developed” pile for a long time, but nothing happened with it. As time went on it was getting harder and harder to get a green light for a new Enemy Within adventure, let alone opening up a whole new region. Then the fashion for Japanese stuff faded and that was that."

 Personally, I think that was a great shame – and so what if the Warhammer Fantasy Battles “Land of Nippon” background had a strong parody streak, with cheesy puns littered everywhere. (For example almost all of the names in the “Tale of Sanyo Kawasaki refer to Japanese brands: Nissan - Sanyo's most trusted rice-bowl bearer, Fujima - Sanyo's most pre-eminent tea-strainer, Honda Susuki - a companion of Sanyo Kawasaki during his siege of the Nipponese capital, and The Orange Simca deity worshipped by Orientals was a reference to Richard Halliwell's car. Then there's the religion Vim-to which is an obvious nod to “VIMTO” the soft drink popular at the time, as well as being a play-on-words of SHINTO, a traditional religion in Japan)?? But ah well, the powers that be' at GW decided that it wasn't going to happen.

Back in those days I cringed at the puns, and bought some of the Oriental Heroes figures to add to my “Dixons Miniatures” samurai army, which saw service fighting Wargames Research Group ancient battles and in the above mentioned Bushido rpg.

I've always thought that taking the 'good bits' from the Warhammer setting and stripping out the cheese would provide a campaign environment I could enjoy, but I can't help but imagine just how the setting would have turned out if it had received GW's Grim Dark treatment, and here's the thing, Stevies “Focus” post has given me the spur to try and find out - by creating my own.........

So what's this got to do with a confession?” I hear you ask. Well, if you haven't already guessed, I have been an absolute fanatic about most things Japanese ever since I started practicing Judo in 1972, and of course that fanatacism spilled over into my gaming.

Why don't you use one of the game systems already out there?” Ah! An even better question, an the answer is “I do.” and over the years as I've built up a comprehensive library of reference material, the shelves of my gaming cupboard have also become home a diverse collection of 'Top Titles' (including Bushido, Legend of The Five Rings, Sengoku, Forbidden Fortress, Oriental Adventures)

and lesser known rpg's (inc Chanbara, Ruins & Ronin, The Mountain Witch, Shinobi & Samurai)

and a raft of wargame rules (from small skirmish to large battles) from which I've plundered ideas, components and mechanics to build my WHFRP vision!

When is this campaign starting?” Well actually it already has – and I'll get to the story so far but first, a couple of important points that should help any newcomers to understand a little about the genre.....

The Divine Emperor was officially ruler of Nippon and every lord swore loyalty to him, he was largely a marginalized, ceremonial, and religious figure who delegated power to the Shogun, the abbreviation of the historical title "Seii Taishōgun.", effectively the military dictator of the empire and most powerful of the Daimyo (dai means "large", and myō meaning "private land") - the feudal lords who rule most of Nippon from their vast, hereditary land holdings. These fiefs, or Provinces, are divided into districts. Daimyo often hire samurai to guard their land, and pay the samurai in land or food as relatively few can afford to pay samurai in money.

Following the defeat against Cathay at the battle of Xenyong, Hideyoshi ordered his remaining forces to board the ships back to Nippon – the war was lost and the Great Invasion had failed after 120 years of bitter fighting. This defeat is considered the greatest in Nipponese history, and would ultimately cost the Ujimasa the power of the Shogunate. Sure that they were too weak to lead Nippon after the defeat against Cathay, the clan Daimyo once more began plotting against each other and the Shogunate.

The Ujimasa Shoganate was at an all time low, spending more of their time arguing and performing tea ceremonies than leading the country. It hardly came as a surprise when full-on civil war broke out and so began the Sengoku Jidai – the "Age of Warring States" (also known as the Warring Clans period)

The weak Shogunate did nothing to prevent this, and soon rioting became prevalent in Osaka. It did not take long until the rest of the clans followed suit. Each of the great clans attempted to invade their neighbours, minor clans were trampled underfoot and destroyed, and burning fires could be seen every night. As the war spread throughout Nippon, Daimyo took the opportunity to settle old scores (and gain territory at the expense of their neighbours) with mixed results.

The central government had, for all intents and purposes, vanished. The Daimyo were free to wage as many wars as they wanted or could afford. The lesser Samurai families were quite free to dream of greater power and steal land from each other as well. A shifting pattern of rivalries and alliances emerged. One clan might ally with another against the threat from a third, only to find that their allies had become just as great a threat, or that previously loyal underlings were now more dangerous than any external threat.

Samurai warfare had always used dirty tricks, assassination and outright treachery but during earlier conflicts, such as the Gempei War, the clans who had behaved in this fashion were widely regarded as villains. In the Warring Clans period, however, all was fair in love and war. A quick murder was as acceptable as winning a battle. The Daimyo, of course, had access to the Shinobi Tribes (Ninja Assassins), who were in high demand during this era. It was a wise man who took precautions against assassination, even if he didn’t plot the deaths of his rivals and superiors.

During this period the islands of Nippon have reverted to a strict “isolationist” policy and Gaijin (foreigners) are highly discouraged – especially clerics, who had previously “polluted” the native religious doctines and now face an automatic death penalty if caught even setting foot in Nippon.


 

Interestingly though, there are still Nippon ambassadors and trade envoys based in Waterdeep and Armidia, and a large Nipponese community inhabits Marienburg's “Nipponstaad”, between the Paleisbuurt and the Handelaarmarkt. They are mostly labourers and fishermen, and often work for Elves as house staff. In fact, the mansions of the Ten are staffed to the rafters with liveried servants, many drawn from the Cathayan, Nipponese, Indie and Kislevan ghettos under Goudberg's jurisdiction.

My scribblings so far have concentrated on “the affairs of men”, but this isn't an imagi-nations setting, and Shugenja (Magic Users) wield powers drawn from the five elements of Fire, Air, Water, Earth and the Void. Indigenous tribes of orcs and goblins (known as Bakemono in Nippon) inhabit the forests and mountains throughout the islands alongside various demons (Oni),ogres, trolls, dragons and a multitude of other fantasy races. In fact the northern province of Haikido is very much a stronghold of Chaos and is known as “The Shadowlands”, ruled by the descendants of the evil Fu Leng.

But enough of my ramblings, let's draw back the shoji screens and take a peek at some of our characters as they embark upon their adventures in this Grimdark Land of Nippon!

(These are extracts from write-ups over on my The Wargame Addict blog)

1. There was no love lost between the Saito and Murayama clans – their forefathers had fought on opposite sides during the Gempei Wars, but until now, an uneasy truce existed between the two fiefs. The peace was broken when two hot headed young samurai met on the road to a local shrine and neither would give way to the other.

Swords were drawn and Murayama Tanjiro was cut down by Saito Yoshihito. 

Thus a personal and clan feud had begun, so when the Saito allied themselves with the Takeda clan, the Murayama naturally threw in their lot with Takeda's opponents, the Mori clan, and a series of encounters has ensued.


2. Silent shadows moved through the night which enveloped Lord Toji's residence. The guard at the main gate had died without seeing or hearing his assailant and now the shinobi set about their task in earnest – to kill the Daimyo and any of his retainers unfortunate to get in their way.

All was not as it seemed though, for Lord Toji had been warned of the intended attack!

A number of his faithful samurai had lost their lives defending their master, but every one of the black clad assassins were now dead – those who hadn't been killed outright by the defenders had swallowed the poison pills they held in their mouths to prevent interrogation. The Lord and his lieutenants must now make arrangements to visit the informant and discover the price of the information.


3. There has been no contact from a local fortress belonging to an allied samurai clan. Fearing the worst, Matsushita Akitane has sent one of his most loyal warriors to discover the fate of their brothers in arms.The samurai Kawamura Naotomo departs on his mission.

 

At the same time, the head of the local monastery despatched sohei (monk) Hashiba Aritame to discover why a group of monks had not returned from the same fortress.

That night, the kunoichi (female ninja) Sanjou Joko has been sent by the head of her clan to discover what has happened at the fortress to delay the routine report from their spy -

and the following morning, shugenja (magic user) Azai Komako is traveling to the fortress in search of her master, who was due back from there two days ago, the old wizard is so punctual that she just knows something is wrong!


Four strangers, adventurers making their way to the same destination for their own reasons. What lies ahead and will fate guide their footsteps?

So, there we have it – I hope this hasn't come as too much of a shock (or disappointment?!), and I shall try my very best NOT to allow my love of this subject take too much limelight from the others - they WILL continue even though I've now unleashed the beast from the east!

If you've managed to keep reading this far, "Domo arigato" and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject - I'd also like to hear from you if you fancy a play-by-email game of Shogi or Go.

 

 

 

24 August, 2020

Some Positive Focus

Hi guys. I`ve been pretty slow writing much lately on the blog. But it`s certainly not because of lack of hobby interest, hobby melt down or gamers' block. I`m just so grateful that Greg`s been there (as he always is - THANKS for that bud) to take up the slack. So what have I been doing lately? The answer is - lots.
But, I run before my horse to market. If you don`t mind being bored by "six months in the life of a gamer in `lock down`" then stick with me while I try explain where my hobby has been leading me these recent months. I`ll start with a recap (not the first time). Some years ago I decided I had too much stuff and begun a gradual major culling of a life time`s hording mound of hobby material. Figures by the thousand had to go. At first I just gave them away (by the hundreds), then by the thousand... and usually complete collections at a time. My personal 25000 strong collection of minis began to reduce in size with each thing I passed on; until eventually my home started to take on less crazy proportions and began to look less and less like some military museum, or a trip into a fantasy/sci-fi convention event. I doubt I have any more than 5000 miniatures left, and I`ve downsized my terrain to fit onto about.. hmmm.... yeah, about the size of two table tennis tables at this stage. More than enough for any boy, right? But naaaaa I`m still looking for get rid of about half what`s left, to bring things down to a truly manageable size. And I`m almost there, woohooo.. go me!
Then something happened that did two things. The first got me mega excited and the other made me groan in silent despair. About a month before the virus pandemic caused us all to go into virtual air raid lock down, Games Workshop bought out the weekly "Mortal Realms" magazine and I found I simply could not miss up on this opportunity to pursue Age of Sigmar (a game I had been occasionally window shopping since its conception a few years earlier). As I watched my four brand new magazine collected armies grow, with miniatures so liberally included in generous quantity each week, so my enthusiasm for this strangely unique subject began to expand. But the groan came from the fact I have been trying to cull my collection, not damn well add to it. But I countered this by saying to myself "right, if I do this and collect this new stuff, then even more of the other stuff must go." And I was as good as my word. Wasn`t always easy, as the hobbyist`s mind has a way of whispering poisonously "but you need this one.. oh and you can`t possibly let that bit go, can you?"
But I stayed true to my word. In fact because I took up my weekly subscription to Mortal Realms, I gave away my entire 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons collection of books and veritable host of supporting miniatures (only keeping the D&D Adventure System ones.. which quite frankly, is more than enough for any boy). So it came down to choices.... buy anything new, and something old had to be got rid of: so that I might never ever have again watched my hobby get out of hand: or my gaming lust fall foul of purchase addiction. Anyway, I discovered Age of Sigmar and saw that it was good. I was already entrenched in a passion for World War Two on my other blog, and have been busy enjoying Russian Front "Stalingrad" games ever since I delved into that beast of a subject.. though I tend to enjoy those games on the table top, a lot more than I actually see to write about them. But I plan for this to change as soon as I get a little more time, and go back to writing and posting battle reports for it, all over on The Emerald Musketeers. Trust me, I may not have been writing about it much, but I have been enjoying playing this era, ever since I first bought it into focus on the blog all those months ago. But also I have my "Core Space" game to enjoy, which receives equal attention here at the Stevie and Hillers abode. Sure, we play other games we own such as "Zombicide Black Plague/Green Horde, Zombicide Invaders, Commands and Colours Napoleonics and Ancients, and a few other games as well. But these things really just fall into the category of casual board games we occasionally take out and enjoy, rather than full on passion, subjects worthy of life style deep immersion.
But yeah, this lock down (which we are continuing to take very seriously despite being told it's safe to go out and about now.... which we DONT!) has caused me to rethink my hobby in a big, positive, constructively life changing way. Quite frankly it gave me the kick up the ass needed to continue redefining my hobby, and made me realise what is important to me and what is not. For years I`ve talked about having the courage and conviction to follow of my words, i.e. that it`s maybe better to pursue just one or two.... or three subjects, to the exclusion of having too much on my plate. And that led me to fine tune, to fever pitch, the things I really enjoy doing, and having the conviction to follow my gut and go all out on the more important things, in a way that satisfies my interest and can keep me enthralled and thrilled with proper immersion, worthy of the subjects have picked and chosen to stay with. My choices might surprise some, but make others nod their heads sagely and go "yep, that comes as no real surprise at all". I won't go into what I am into. Anyone who knows me and has been following along for the past few years pretty much knows my more persistent interests anyway. Besides which, these will become apart as they see my picks get more and more blog attention as future posts get aired (both here and on the other blog). But I would like to talk here, this time, about just one game I have a deep respect for.. and have done for decades now, especially as I wrote a lot of the official (and some unofficial) canon for the game way back in my younger salad days. Drum roll ----> yep... "Necromunda"
I`ve watched the game go through various reincarnations, from its original inception, its occasional re-releases (some good, some not so good), right through to its rather spectacular though incredibly pricy current version.. and its intensely beautiful 3D Zone Mortalis terrain.
Three things happens reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the game this year, causing me to realise it`s lasting appeal as a `game to keep` among my hobby choices. Firstly, I discovered "Core Space" in the latter half of last year, quickly realising the terrain for this (and the very concept itself for that matter) fitted the Necromuna theme very nicely, making the two layouts highly combinable into one game project (the guys over at Battle Systems say this themselves). Core Space and certain aspects of the new "Necromunda: Dark Uprising" also satisfied my interest in Judge Dredd, Aliens, and... yes.. Blade Runner, all at the same time. Especially obvious was the Zone Mortalis Palatine Hive Enforcers, simply perfect, thematically, for a dystopian style version of a Judge Dredd-ish type game.
The second thing that struck me was just how much fun I was having playing Necromunda as a solitaire experience (especially the new version with all its various beautiful hardcover books complete with random charts and myriad of campaign event tables). Certainly enough grim-dark material to keep even the most cynical solo campaign-ist happy for many years.. and enough reading material to immerse into for a life time of `sticking power` pleasure. So why have I never mentioned Necromunda before on the blogs? Well, simply that I never really got round to it. I always planned to, but I had so many other things I needed and wanted to do for the blog first. The same goes for my Middle Earth, Massive Darkness, Sails of Glory, Travel Battle, and a few others as well. Besides which, TGC is less eclectic nowadays and we try to keep things a little more themed most of the time. When we do get into a subject and bring it to the fore (like Greg`s Blade Runner, along with another projects he`s keeping under his hat right now) we tend to go all out on it, rather than introduce random smatterings here and there. That leads on nicely to the third thing that got me excited, which was Greg`s reinvigorated interest in Blade Runner. While I don`t know anything like as much as he does about that franchise (oh my goodness, nope.. certainly not nearly as much a Greg does) it got my own juices working enough to realise just how much there might be here to explore.. i.e. the darker side of dystopian science fiction. And what`s more, I could filter in my version of Core Space and Necromunda in a way that would not disrupt his meticulous time lines and game play canon. But more on that to come. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. So suffice it to say, I will soon be covering these games in much depth. I`m currently just waiting for a gap in TGC to fit it in, and make a proper start.
So what does all this mean? I`ve sold off/given away my 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons (what.. no more Waterdeep?), and I keep going on about Age of Sigmar (what.. no more Tegel Manor and Forgotten realms?), so what about this new crossover Realms campaign? and I`ve said I want to do more science fiction.... what does all this meaaaaaaan? Well, I`ve not been using 5e D&D for a long time in any case. Like all the rest of the D&D-ers out there: when 5e came along I was quite excited by it and, to be fair, I gave it a ruddy good run for its money, using it in our regular games for years. But there`s s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g about it that leaves me cold. It feels sterile, missing, like its `going through the motions` (like Buffy The Vampire Slayer in Season 6). End of the day I started turning more and more either to 4th edition D&D or more recently to my own ABC system. Greg and I still use all the cool source material for Waterdeep and The Realms, but it`s been a long while since we used the actual rules of play. So honestly there`s no change there. Waterdeep (AND THE NEW CORSSOVER) will continue as normal, seamlessly, with no upheaval that anyone will even be aware of.
My love of Age of Sigmar is more about me rediscovering a love for Games Workshop. I may not agree with many of their policies, but I can`t fault their games, their miniatures, or their terrain, all of which are second to none (as the high prices certainly reflects). what it is that I find appealing about GW.. is that you can take the miniatures stats from a game of Warhammer 40K, take the stats from Warhammer Fantasy, take the stats from Necromunda, and you will find they are all compatible.. right across the board: making cross genre play not only very doable, but often rather desirable. The stats also work pretty closely with my ABC rules and it takes little effort to convert one stat block over to the other. So Age of Sigmar satisfies something very British in me (something American fantasy gaming can't quite touch in the same way). It fulfills the right tone and style of what European (aka - typical Medieval) fantasy means to me. So trying to find ways to mix AoS in with the Waterdeep campaign is something I am always trying to marry into a seamless whole. However as more time goes by, it seems to have become a natural progression that the newer layers take on a more shape. Perhaps its inevitable that my half of the shared Realms campaign (shared with Greg) takes on more and more aspects of Games Workshop-y-ness as I delve deeper into the immersion of that product, as time goes by.
As for science fiction. For a long time now, I`ve been saying I wanted to do more of that. But I was being good.. and not overloading TGC with too much eclectic material. Greg led the way here with his Blade Runner thing. Which opened a new door for me to go "Yesssss" Now Maitland. Now!" <--- sorry, favourite Waterloo quote, hehe. Sorry to ramble on so much. But I do so like sharing the hobby this way with others, ever hopeful my words might even help others along the way. Have fun Steve

12 August, 2020

Checking In On Sin

Just to follow up on the teaser from my previous post, here's a short narration of Cindy's (or "Sin" as she has become better known) exploits just before she was seen in the same photo as The Doctor and Agatha.

Hank Taylor had received a video file from the Chief's office, along with travel documents to New Kowloon on the following morning's sub-orbital. “No further details” he thought, “I guess the info will be on the vid” and he slotted it into his monitor link after pouring himself a large scotch.

The header text showed that the video footage was captured by security cameras at 'Synergy Dynamics' (a low key franchise he'd never even heard of) research and development, new Kowloon.....................

 The video footage opened with a view of the reception area (Hank couldn't help but notice the impressive heavy weapons rack for such a 'low key' R&D facility). The security guard was just about to respond to a request for entry, while a lab tech (identified as a synthetic known as "Andrea") was working at a terminal behind his desk.

The guard had thumbed the intercom and asked who was there, but never heard the reply "Pizza", because Andrea had come up from behind and knocked him out cold before activating the door release.

Three characters walked through the door and Hank hit the freeze frame button just as Cindy ("Sin", the Nexus-8 replicant that Hank had been tasked with retiring) put a heavy caliber slug through the guards brain - same old stone cold psychopathic killer as ever.

The guy by the doorway ID'd as a splicer who went by the moniker "SAVANT" (54V4N7), no previous criminal record involving anything on this scale, so presumably he's a 'disposable asset', or a big time wannabe. The guy in the trench coat toting the assault rifle was the reason Hank had hit the pause button though. He thought he'd recognised him as he walked in, and the facial recognition ID confirmed his suspicion - he was looking at "Officer M" (MX5-3-9, a Nexus-9 replicant) who'd worked as a Blade Runner, until he'd entered a seedy bar down in the sprawl just moments before the place blew up. The explosion had ignited an intense fire, and no identifiable body parts had been found, but M had been assumed Killed In Action that night - hell, Hank had even toasted his memory and cursed his rotten luck, but here he was large as life! Hank poured another stiff one before pressing the resume play button on the vid.. 


The cameras tracked M as he carried out a systematic sweep of the lab area, gunning down the only tech that appeared to be on duty that evening.

Meanwhile, Andrea had led the rest of the group straight to the central office, where she and Sin kept a watchful eye out while the console jockey hooked himself up to the lab's mainframe. (Hank read from the security info that the labs IT network was configured Local Area Network Only, so there was no external access via cyberspace). It took him a couple of attempts, but the splicer finally indicated that he'd successfully done whatever it was he was there to do (He'd obviously stolen something, planted something, or erased something - the security info wasn't forthcoming!)

  

Just then the hostile security (H-Sec) started to arrive on the scene,


from several directions,


LOTS of them, and a vicious firefight broke out.


M had rejoined the rest of the group in the central office, and the four of them now had to fight their way out of the facility....



and the "heavies" were also starting to arrive.




 

At one point it looked as though the H-Sec had the group pinned and their evacuation point blocked,

but that was when Sin displayed her speed and agility (along with her devastating melee skills), and cleared the way to the exit.



Once outside the lab complex, the security cameras showed all four members of the group heading off in different directions, before the images on the screen blinked out and were replaced by white noise. "Oh well, the footage is just over 24 hours old but I'll bet this months paycheck that the trail has already gone cold! Time for one more scotch before turning in for the night, and then set my alarm to get up in time to catch that sub-orbital tomorrow".

There we go, "the game is afoot" and Hank has plenty to think about on his way to New Kowloon! First Blade Runner write-up here and first time using the new Blogger interface - with luck things will improve from this point onwards!!

29 July, 2020

Double Bubble

I'm not sure what Stevie is up to (though I DO have a pretty good idea!), but the sound of clattering paint brushes is like chopsticks in a sushi bar at happy hour as he prepares for his next opus!
It therefore falls to me, to grab this opportunity and post an update on the Wormriders escapades.

Temple of Bane - the aftermath

Ulenze had opened the door and ushered his companions out into the street before throwing the fireball gems, and diving through the doorway himself. The fireballs have a blast radius of 20 feet, so the halfling was on the very edge of the range, and moved immediately – so on the face of it, he avoided taking any damage, but of course I couldn't leave it at that! 
 In the panic, his aim could have been off, and since the blast was taking place in an enclosed space I figured that it could be “funneled” in some way. These complications were easily sorted by referring to Mythic and a few dice rolls later, the result was that Ulenze escaped with singed feet (a terrible fate for a halfling!).

As for Manshoon's simulacrum, I decided to allow him TWO saving throws (one for each fireball even though they were thrown simultaneously) – which he failed spectacularly!! (even with his +2 bonus!)
The damage totaled 68hp, which was enough to force him to retreat..... still burning, through a burning building (therefore taking cumulative damage each turn) via the teleportation circle.
I think at this point it's safe to assume that the simulacrum will require “some work”, and that Manshoon will be furious!

As the fire raged on Shield Street, the surviving Wormriders made their way through the rapidly gathering crowd and headed for home, unaware that prying eyes were upon them.

By the time they arrived back at Trollskull Manor, a “plan” of sorts had been agreed – although this didn't extend beyond Nakelus going over to Gralhund Villa to give Allinn the bad news about Selemen's demise and bringing the dwarf back to the inn while Loundre and Ulenze tended their wounds as best they could.

Once reunited, Allinn had just reported that all was very quiet at the villa when Renaer piped up from the doorway “That is probably due to the Zhentarim being very much on the back foot since the City Watch have put them under pressure following the events with the Gralhunds, though I'm afraid your exploits over on Shield Street today will have rather thrown a spanner in the works. Pardon me for not knocking, but I fear time is very much of the essence”.
 “My friends in the Harpers have sent me with a warning that you have attracted unwanted attention from members of the Zhentarim AND the City Watch who will no doubt have your descriptions from witnesses at the scene of the fire. We need to get out of here and into a place of hiding immediately, so if you'd care to follow me, we must be on our way – NOW.”

With that, Renaer led them out of Trollskull Manor, picking up one of the Harpers who was keeping watch outside in the alley, and the six of them headed off towards the Dock Ward, unaware that the situation was in fact far worse than any of them realised – with not just the Zhentarim and City Watch on their way to Trollskull Manor, but a VERY angry Manshoon was also looking for revenge (and the stone)!





To Be Continued.


AND before I go, I'd just like to leave you this little snippet by way of introduction to a new storyline:-

The console cowboy barely had strength to tug out the 'trodes connector from the side of his skull before slumping back in his seat, bathed in sweat. One half closed, out of focus eye guided his trembling hand, while sheer force of will compelled the muscles to get his finger to the power switch. He felt rather than heard the “click” when the deck was turned off,........... and then the lights went out.
What had started as a routine hack had turned into a run that he'd never forget – and one that nearly killed him. He'd made his way through the alleyways of raw data that made up cyberspace and grabbed illicit copies of the latest simstim releases (which he would sell on to “Rico” to cover his bar bill), when something moving in the matrix had caught his eye and he'd gone for a closer look.
As he'd got closer, the 'thing' had become aware of his presence, and at first he thought it was just another cyber jockey on his patch – just someone that he didn't recognise (specifically, he didn't recognise their “manifestation” in cyberspace), so he'd moved in closer to check them out. When the thing started dropping black ICE in his path he just assumed it was a hostile netrunner, but boy, this dude was fast, and powerful! Attributes he could (at first) put down to just enhancement drugs or a top of the range cyberdeck loaded with the latest software and add-ons......... until the thing stopped, and turned.
He'd never known raw fear like it before in his life. Growing up he understood “Good and Evil”, and life in the Sprawl and refined those concepts to (un)healthy levels, but only now did he sense what he believed to be pure, raw, unholy WICKEDNESS. He was familiar enough with the sensation of literally running for his life – in the matrix and in meatspace, but right then he knew that he was fleeing for his very soul!

To Be Continued.

At this point you may (or may not) be forgiven for thinking I'm starting a whole new campaign here, so I'll finish this post with an additional couple of teasers :-)

Cindy, a Nexus-7 replicant, working on an orbital freight transfer station ended up hiding away on an inbound shuttle. She killed a freight handler and security guard at the shuttle terminus when she broke out of the hold, then "Sin" then went on to gun down two armed police officers who had responded to the call-out at the terminus, before she disappeared into the sprawl.
Blade Runners Ernie Ford and Agatha Fox had been assigned to track down and “retire” the skinjob, but Agatha had gone off work sick (well, she said she had to go and see the Doctor).
That's the same Agatha that then turned up in Waterdeep,
and was next seen aboard a deserted space station with a certain Doctor,
and has now been spotted on CCTV footage on the streets of New Kowloon, as security agents tracked Cindy's movements after she'd carried out a raid on a bio-tech research facility. Once again, Agatha is accompanied by the Doctor!


most definitely To Be Continued.