Sunday, July 14, 2019

Grymwaldian Grinding

It has been a while since last updating curious onlookers with details of what has been transpiring in the 1E AD&D Grymwald campaign in Lake Geneva, WI.  At first, it was to avoid spoilers for the players involved but we also skipped a couple of weeks after they finished off the bones of a couple of locations they had not quite stripped clean.  As of last session, the group has moved on to a new area of the map, having leveled up (a couple of levels in some cases), but this just brings new dangers for them.  There are still a handful of vile and unscrupulous personalities out in the world of which they are aware, and who are aware of them.  I'm a big fan of making sure strong NPCs have their own agenda but also keeping in mind that those NPCs will be proactive about defending what that see as their own territory from PC threats.  A group of adventurers can cut a deep swath of destruction and not everyone will be happy about that outcome.

In any event, the group now is attempting to tackle the first of a series of locations they had heard existed when they originally formed as a party.  There is an arced line of tors on the Trackless Moors where, in ancient times, dwarfish builders had created safe havens approximately one day's travel from one another so that the moors could be more safely crossed from south the north, and vice versa.  While some have speculated there might not be great wealth within them, others disagree.  There might not have been good reason to horde wealth at these travel stops but they did need to be defended.  The moors are a dangerous place even today despite civilization flourishing on all sides.  In ancient times, it is suspected that the moors were the least dangerous path from the Hills of Dissent to the Great Mouth Bay and thus the route chosen for the building of the Dragon's Teeth.

Photos in which the DM appears taken by "Scott Michael"

When last we left off, the group was heading back to the third level of some crypts they were systematically clearing.  Once there, they encountered a great many ghouls but developed a protocol, dealing with each new wave, doing their best to keep the undead at bay and dispatch each in turn.  Sadly, when you do the same thing over and over, successfully but relying in part on chance, sooner or later the fates will intervene and after dealing with a great many undead via via their fighting formula the odds caught up with the group.  Thusly, they were not in full health when they discovered a secret door which they hoped would lead them to great treasure.  An unlucky attempt to remove a trap on the door's locking mechanism dropped the thief to a failed poison saving throw and forced the group to retreat once more to recover their strength and raise the thief.  A couple of other adventurers also needed to be carried or assisted back to town for healing and recuperation, so this group took a fair beating before stepping back to reassess the situation.

More of these have been added and / or painted since this photo

Their next assault was thwarted now by two goblin leaders who had joined forces against the party: the oil-tossing goblin veteran met on level two and the goblin shaman who had been driven from the complex further north.  Apparently, the shaman had come south and linked up with the veteran to form a deadly combination.  Along the route the group was taking to get back down to the third level of the crypts, the devious goblins had laid an oil trap, which was sprung to cause serious damage to the group, then the goblins made their escape blocking off pursuit with a wall of ice strategically placed to cover the stairway down.  No matter.  Pursuit of the goblins would have been quite risky with a fair portion of the party so injured so once again they limped back to town, frustrated but determined.

Alex keeps a journal of events for the party

After regrouping in Jalston to heal and resupply, they ventured back toward the crypt complex.  They skirted the eastern edge, sticking to the road outside the moors and traveling down to a place they had used to ferry across the River Serpentine at the town of Fall Bridges.  When they arrived, they discovered that some goblins had boldly crossed the river to destroy the boat they had used in the past to traverse the water.  This did not please the group but rather than be dissuaded, they commandeered an alternate vessel, made the crossing, and picked up the trail of the goblin raiders.  They tracked them over the moors and managed to catch up to the goblin warband before they could go to ground.  The fight that ensued was decidedly one-sided.  The enemy which had proved to be quite formidable in the confines of the tunnels of the crypts was caught out in the open and dispatched with great aplomb.  The fire-wielding goblin was cut down with arrows as was his new-found shaman ally.  The remaining goblins the two leaders had enlisted were even less of a threat and though a couple attempted to flee, they were wiped out to the last.

It's an interesting testament to the flexibility of the game system and the style of play first edition D&D engenders when used in combination with a sandbox setting.  The group had an enemy leader escape earlier in the campaign only to have that enemy bolster the strength of a second enemy who might well have been easily dispatched under luckier circumstances.  The combination of the two villains now working in tandem created several game sessions of more challenging encounters and, in fact, the villains were able to bring the fight to the adventurers.  These weren't monsters that were going to be chased away and never seen again nor content to sit idly by in their pre-written lairs and await some adventurers to come and slay them.  They adapted even as the players needed to adapt their own strategies to meet the evolving challenges faced when dealing with such villains.  What could have been some underwhelming vanilla goblin fights became, in retrospect, a dynamic story arc in the lives of the player characters that could only unfold through game play.  This is what I love about Old School D&D.

One more time the group ventured to the crypts with the intention of returning to the secret door and discovering what lay beyond.  They were sure, based on all they had seen and divined, that this would be the big pay off.  With little difficulty, they descended the three levels and dealt with a few ghouls before setting up outside the hidden portal, now revealed.  They had come a long way to reach this moment, had experienced many setbacks, and had overcome great diversity.  The lock was picked and the tomb beyond was as daunting as they had suspected.  It was a round chamber with an alcove to the left and a single sarcophagus in the center of the domed space.  There were symbols upon the lid that were similar to ones they had encountered on the first level, in a lesser tomb.  The symbols had proved necessary in open a previous sarcophagus interring the remains of a follower of the goddess Nekrem.  A particular phase of the moon was the only time it could be breached.  Despite knowing that particular phase of the moon was several days away, they decided to proceed immediately, attempting to get in and get out before any other problems could arise.  This would prove to be their undoing.

Entering the tomb had set off a number of wards and alarms, releasing a slab that then trapped several members of the party within the tomb, others caught outside desperately trying to move the slab and release their comrades.  Inside, things quickly went from bad to worse with an unrelenting blood-colored ochre or ooze threatening to engulf the chamber from the dome downward at an increasingly rapid rate of speed.  With two of the trapped adventurers atop the sarcophagus trying to decipher the symbols or discover a way to reverse the 'countdown,' Nydijan, the cleric of Darien, entered the alcove and found a panel which, once opened, revealed a hand-shaped depression on a half globe relief.  With little hesitation, Nydijan placed his hand on the globe and proceeded to manipulate it clockwise and counter-clockwise as it pressed inward from time to time when various maneuvers seemed to make progress in this multi-part lock.  The cleric worked swiftly and eventually managed to avert total disaster but not before the blood ochre had reached far enough down to infect him, the two atop the sarcophagus unharmed.  When the ochre retreated, and the stone slab barrier lifted, the full party was reunited, but the lid was still unopened.  Deciding now to await the proper moon phase, the adventurers moved up a level in the complex to a suitable resting place to camp for the night but by morning had an unsettling discovery.  Apparently, over the course of the night, the infection to Nydijan had spread further up his arm and was in danger of completely overwhelming him in within days.  So, too, his very soul seemed infected as well and he seemed to be possessed by a desire to switch from his own deity Darien to that of the evil Nekrem.  Unable to convince him to return to the temple of Darien to seek help, they managed to subdue him and carry him forcibly back with all haste, arriving just in time to have the infection excised.  There would be several weeks more of recovery but they had missed this phase and would need to wait for the next cycle to make another attempt on the sarcophagus anyway so they resigned themselves to remaining in Jalston and taking care of various other duties before returning to the crypts.

With the goblin threat now finally eliminated and knowledge of the crypt's primary tomb in hand (so to speak), the group returned to the crypts the following month only to discover a new and different obstacle.  Their repeated retreats to town for healing and supplies from the temple of Darien had also attracted the attention of the priests in charge at the temple of Toeffer, the main religious organization in the kingdom of Jals.  In the local hierarchy, the temple of Toeffer sometimes enlists the help of the smaller but more militaristic temple of Darien.  The temple of Darien knows its place in this hierarchy and stays on the good side of their Toeffrun allies.  However, the temple of Darien has its own irons in the fire and had been helping fund the PC adventuring party in order to gain more knowledge of the moors in hopes of one day exploiting whatever resources might be found there.  While they weren't keeping any secrets from their allies, they weren't sharing everything they were discovering nor had they invited the temple of Toeffer to join in this venture.  Well, it seems the temple of Toeffer decided to invite themselves to the party and when the adventurers returned this time to the hillock of the ruined tower above the crypts they found dozens of pilgrims and a handful of clerics performing a ritual on that site.  When questioned, the Toefferites welcomed the party to join in the ritual but also blocked the way for the party from venturing within the crypts, for their own safety, of course.  This presented a different type of dilemma for the group.

In the past, the politics of the kingdom had been something of which they were aware but never affected their plans or decisions.  Now, ignoring the Toefferites or forcing their way past might jeopardize the party's standing with the temple of Darien or even cause the two religions to be at odds with one another.  The temple of Darien had been increasingly supportive, providing supplies, healing, resurrections (at a price, admittedly, but discounted as well).  When pulling Nydijan back from the brink of evil, he had recommitted to the temple and both Tertius and Sonoma had followed up this recent act by pledging their arms to Darien as well.  The two fighters now were decked out in the regalia of the temple of Darien which afforded them certain privileges but also came with responsibilities.  If the first time they rode out, as temple representatives, they sparked off a religious conflict, it might not be seen as putting their best foot forward.  It should be mentioned that there was some debate within the party as to whether or not to ignore their fealty to the temple and simply try to explain things away later if necessary but cooler heads prevailed.  In the end, the party moved off a bit and the druid and thief explored the possibility of entering via the previously blocked off rat tunnels.  This they did and although the thief became grievously injured in the process, it did gain the group access to the tomb in time for the moon phase which allowed them, with their previously gained knowledge of the hand-lock, to open the sarcophagus and glean the treasures within.  They then slipped away, leaving the Toefferites undisturbed, unaware of the fact that the party had essentially made off with any treasure to which they might hope to lay claim.

Although the group has played once more since the above events, it is definitely a new leg of the campaign so I will leave recounting it to a future missive.  Much of the group is fourth or even fifth level in some cases.  In the meantime, I will be bolstering up the details of the places they are now exploring, hoping to make it as fun and challenging as it has all been in the first half of 2019.  Game on!

Sunday Funnies -

Over on the Heavy Metal website, they made a gif-enhanced list of the various Captain Kirk fighting styles from original Star Trek.  Enjoy!

Humor, often gaming-related,
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Friday, July 12, 2019

Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)

If you self-publish but are unaware of Harvey Pekar, you might find his life, works, and legacy interesting.  I recall watching his interviews on Letterman back in the 80s and 90s and thinking he was such a fish out of water, railing against the system while still trying to make a buck from it to make ends meet.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Events & Play Wednesday - Con of the Lakes 2019

The second annual Con of the Lakes, a small fundraising gaming convention based in Twin Lakes, WI, and hosted at the American Legion Post #544 with room for 125 gamers, took place last Saturday, June 22nd, 2019.  This year it included wargaming, boardgaming, and RPGs.  The 2019 convention successfully raised funds for Women's and Childrens Horizons in Kenosha, WI.  It's a wonderful, one-day event run by family and friends and featuring some of the finest game designers and game masters like Nancy Hutchins and Tom Wham.


News of Conventions and Gamedays as well as pictures
from those I have attended and games I have played.
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Monday, June 24, 2019

RPG Media Monday - The Name of the Rose

If you're familiar with the 1980 novel by Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, or even the 1986 film adaptation of it, you will likely be glad to hear of an Italian mini-series retelling.  It stars an International cast but is geared toward English-speaking audiences and available on here.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

RPG Media Monday - Midsummer Madness Colossalcon 2019

Over on his MR.Z YouTube channel, Marshall Zemplinski has shared his latest video titled "Midsummer Madness Colossalcon 2019."  Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day!

Here's a shout out to all of the Dad's out there.  You know you're Dadding it right if you can instill a love of games in your offspring.  Here's a snap of my own pops at a Father's Day Cubs game in the early 1980s, even though he was more of a White Sox fan at this point.  When we moved to the Midwest from Philadelphia in the late 1960s, he took myself and my brothers down to Wrigley Field when the Phillies were in town and I became a lifelong Cubs fan.  Thanks, Dad!

Yup, that's a Gen Con XI t-shirt!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Events & Play Wednesday - Nexus 2019 Wrap-Up!

I had quite a bit of fun at the Nexus Game Fair this year and am glad I took the time off work to go.  A lot of folks ask if I ever get burnt out on gaming, since I work at a game store, so I am around games and sometimes teaching or playing while at work, and seemingly do a lot of gaming in my off time as well.  This usually is the question I get asked most when I mention I went to a game convention, then say, "No," when they ask if I went there in a work capacity.  I understand the question because I've seen it happen to other gamers I know but am glad to say that in three years of managing the store I have yet to feel like I need to walk away from gaming.

I mentioned in an earlier post how I kicked off Nexus with their Wednesday evening gaming, playing Between Two Cities (2015)The Builders: Middle Ages (2013), and Five-Minute Dungeon (2017).  Most of my gaming at Nexus was going to be boardgaming with just a bit of RPGing.  With conventions like Gary Con, I like to get in as much Old School wargaming as I can, along with some Old School RPGing.  With Nexus a few years ago, I was also able to do just that but there's not a lot of pre-gunpowder wargaming, which is what I prefer.  I'm a fan of Ancients and Medievals, but also enjoy Medieval Fantasy (Chainmail, HOTT, etc).  For my RPGing, I tend to sign on for 1E AD&D and (O)D&D, but will also jump in retroclone games like AS&SOH and a few others.  There wasn't much of either on the schedule at Nexus this year but there were a few 4X wargamey boardgames as well as some other I don't get to play in too often.

My Thursday began with a game of Concordia (2013).  I haven't played this much but find it very engaging.  I really love the artwork, the Roman theme is well-integrated, and the shifting markets that drive gameplay.  Scott Ward did a pretty good job explaining enough of the game to get us started fairly quickly.  The number of expansion maps available for this game have tempted me to become an owner of it though I am not sure how often I would get to play.

Later that afternoon, I played in a raucous game of Xia: Legends of a Drift System (2014).  Expansions were included this time and Charles Boyung was wise getting the game shifted to a large round table.  It was a fun bunch playing this game and one of the delights of Nexus for me this year.

Nancy stopped by to see what all the laughing was about.  She is one of the busiest gamemasters of Nexus but still finds time to see what else is being played.

Although there was no miniatures wargaming built into my own Nexus schedule, I made sure to pop by and see what Steve Fratt had going.  His 6 mm figures fighting it out at The Battle of Antietam was a spectacular sight!

Although the only RPGing I had scheduled, when I was wandering the convention to check out the various game spaces I ran across my friend Wendy who told me there was an open seat in Harold Johnson's 1E AD&D game.  I don't tend to sign up for the Old School celebrity DM games since I've played with these guys before and I don't want to take a seat away from someone who hasn't had the opportunity yet.  With some of the conventions, these openings are at a premium but Nexus seems to be more about the boardgaming with a smattering a wargaming and newer RPG experiences.

Just because I didn't sign up in advance for this 1E AD&D game doesn't mean I wasn't ready should the opportunity arise.  Plus, I did sign up for one of the hour-long Tower of Gaxx slots for Saturday.  I have since relegated that PC to NPC status in my own game and the players have run into him.  I LOVE recycling PCs from convention games into my own setting!

Friday began with George Henion's slot of Britannia (1986).  This was the original version from 1986, so it was about as wargamey as boardgames get at Nexus, though we weren't quite moving the chits from hex to hex.  George had procured this copy some time ago but hadn't gotten it to the table yet, so some of it was unpunched and we handled this as we went along.  We got about half the game played in the allotted time, and it was fun, but I had some other things to do and had to go.  I found out a bit later that several of the players stuck around for an hour or so more and managed to get through to almost the full game.  It was a real treat playing this classic.

Terraforming Mars (2018) was the first of two games I would play with Mike Staub as the gamemaster at Nexus this year.  He had included the expansions and I have to say that sitting down the end of a long table and not being able to easily see what everyone was doing put me on the back foot for this game.  It had been a while since I last played and then only with the base game so I was more than a bit at sea when it came to following other people's turns.  My opening cards were also all much too high-cost to give me early options, so it took a few turns for me to get my own engine started.  Still, I found a strategy to keep me occupied and managed to enjoy building what I could.

Sadly, the MtG booster draft I meant to play Friday evening didn't fire, which is a shame but I know how frustrating that can be for the organizers, so I sympathize.  There was other fun to be and, though, so I spent a little more time checking out what else was happening and ran across Nancy Hutchins running her session of Are You Mental (2017) in one of the RPG conference rooms.  The premise of the game is that all players have a character with some sort of superpower, though it might not be quite what the player expects it to be.

I also caught up with some of the Nexus core folk in the GM lounge.  It's a wonderful reminder that gaming, and Nexus Game Fair, is a family affair.  I picked up a fair amount of swag this year, perhaps overcompensating for only getting out one day each of the last two years.  The Jeff Easley dragon t-shirts for this year were especially nice and the Nexus messenger bag perfectly replaces a somewhat smaller messenger bag I recently planned to retire due to a faulty zipper and some unfortunate rips.

Saturday started with my second Mike Staub event, Star Trek: Ascendancy (2016).  I've been dying to try this one out for some time now and was glad to be able to get it on my Nexus schedule.  I love the way the universe gets built during gameplay, and I mean that both figuratively and literally.  It's just a very neat bit of design and it makes it feel like it's both expansive and far more vast than the huge areas being depicted during the game.  That's quite an accomplishment, in and of itself, but the rest of the game is elegantly crafted too.  I'm going to have to play this one again soon.

On Saturday afternoon, I found my way to Orleans (2014) which was being run by fellow Lake Geneva resident, Scott Halvorson.  I failed to grab a picture at our game but here's one of Scott later in the day running  I boxed myself out of one of the victory point multipliers early on but still enjoyed the game.

Finally, I got to play in a slot and a half of the Tower of Gaxx, and ongoing event that runs continuously but in one-hour sessions.  It was a very good time but with my schedule, I had to head back to Lake Geneva Saturday evening and some storms were rolling in.  All in all, it was a wonderful convention and I can't wait to go again next year!

News of Conventions and Gamedays as well as pictures
from those I have attended and games I have played.
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Monday, June 10, 2019

RPG Media Monday - Morley Cigarettes

Not too long ago, an episode of The Blacklist feature a pack of Morley cigarettes.  I'd know a bit of the history behind the prop brand and they've appeared in some of my favorites shows, from X-Files to Buffy, and so on.  In any event, the recent appearance prompted me to dig a little deeper and share a link to a article on the subject.  Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Funnies - Hedge Dragon?

I'm not sure when but over on Bored Panda, they reported that an "Elderly Man Spent 10 Years Turning 150-Ft-Long Hedge Into Giant Dragon."  How cool!

Humor, often gaming-related,
to start the week with a chuckle.
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Monday, June 3, 2019

RPG Media Monday - Star Trek: Picard

Playing catch up a bit here but just before the weekend I saw the teaser trailer for Star Trek: Picard had dropped.  Over on Screen Rant, they discuss "Where Picard Takes Place In The Star Trek Timeline."

I wonder how much they will charge for the bottles of wine they will inevitably sell?

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Nexus Game Fair 2019

Nexus Game Fair takes place this weekend in Brookfield, WI, at the Sheraton and I popped up Wednesday evening for some early boardgaming.  If you happen to be in the area, this is a fun convention whether you go the whole weekend or just for a day or two.  Plenty to do and many great gamers to meet!  (Facebook Event Link)

The excellent Jacob Clemens guided us through a seven player game of Between Two Cities (2015) which was a good time.

Four of us followed it up with a game of The Builders: Middle Ages (2013).

Afterwards, I squeezed in a game of Five-Minute Dungeon (2017) with Jolly Blackburn but failed to snap a picture.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Imperial March at the Talent Show

Funny thing happened at a talent show in Minnesota. It was reported on Twitter that Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was interrupted by a kid's rendition of the Imperial March.  No star systems were destroyed during the making of this talent show . . .

Monday, May 27, 2019

D&D Cartoon-Inspired Car Commercial

You might recall that recently it was revealed that there was a Renault car commercial in the works utilizing live-action representations of the characters from the 1980s D&D cartoon.

Well, now the Brazilian Live-Action D&D Cartoon-based car commercial has dropped, so ENJOY!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Deep in the Grind in Grymvald

There was some concern from the players that they had been under-leveled to delve into Marak Tor and some even felt that the Deaddrop Goblin complex presented a low chance for survival.  I can't argue with that and every group, and player, can have their own opinion about the difficulty level of any adventure or campaign.  There have been a fair number of deaths.  And I'm not a kid gloves kind of game master anymore than I am an iron fist in velvet glove type.  I allow players to make choices and tell them the consequences.  I don't allow trial balloons (i.e. "IF I do [this], what will happen?") but I make sure to answer exploratory questions regarding details that can help inform choices.  There's no such thing as a true sandbox, as I've stated in the past, since there is no infinite sandbox, but I like to think that on the sliding scale between railroad and sandbox my own campaigns are pretty far over to the latter.  So, what's the point?

Well, after listening to my players concerns about what they seemingly believed to be a high rate of new character generation, shall we say, I decided to give them a location where they could simply throw themselves in for a few weeks or month and grind up some monsters into a fine EXP powder, along with the requisite coinage and magic items for treasure.  But please recall in my last campaign report I wrote, "This newly discovered ruin, while not directly tied to the Dragon's Teeth, seemed like something the group should be better equipped to tackle without too great a risk to life and limb, something the group had begun to learn was worth consideration.  Early losses in the numbers of the group had been slowing down their overall progress and they felt a more incremental approach to adventuring might be prudent.  There were only a handful of founding group members (and a number of players had worked through several characters).  They understood that what they would find at this new ruin would be an underground goblins' lair and rats' nest, and so it has proved thus far."

A bit shorthanded but not daunted!

So a couple of weeks of exploring this new ruin found them dealing mostly with goblins on the first level but also with a few other creatures, animalistic in nature.  There were a couple of hobgoblins but these were a cake walk.  They also had to deal with a small crypt section which, while it presented some serious difficulties, was eventually overcome through clever game play and force of arms.  Then they started feeling their oats and delved deeper, working their way around the second level, clearing out more goblins, hobgoblins, some fire beetles, and a bit more, only to eventually run up against one of the surliest, veteran goblins ever.  This fella was in no mood to charge in with a nasty goblin knife, opting instead to throw a flask of oil during a surprise round . . . then won initiative and tossed a couple more.  Needless to say, the group which had been doing so well grinding out encounters and had, indeed, found some success in leveling along the way, were burnt in half with six party members severely crispified, three to zero or below, one even so far under you'd have thought Thanos snapped him out of the game.  It was devastating.  But the party regrouped, cut off a continued assault by the goblin vet, gathered up their fallen, and retreated from the complex, then proceeded with great speed to the one place they thought they could get enough healing to make a difference.

In the kingdom's capitol, they hooked up with a temple they'd previously utilized and traded off a major magic item to secure a Raise Dead spell, to bring back the one party member who was beyond the pale.  They even had enough value from the item to bank two additional Raise Dead spells for future instances, should they be required.  The rest of the party needed some time in civilization to recover from dropping below zero but the healing of them was within the means of the party.  It was a tough set back but there were no permanent party member deaths, so it should be chalked up as a semi-success.  The group has reached a point where death is an obstacle but not insurmountable.  The grind has afforded them the option of pressing their luck without the risks being impossible to take.

Photo by "Scott Michael"

Their set backs seemed to fuel the group's resolve and they remounted an assault.  This time they approached by a less deadly route, opting to travel some distance through civilized lands and come at the complex from across a river, saving themselves from many wandering monster checks.  Always a plus.  They dove in, having previously mapped a good deal of the first and second levels, and utilized their wand of enemy detection to triangulate the whereabouts of potential threats then eradicate them with surgical precision.  While they were unable to locate the surly, fire-wielding goblin vet, nor the goblin shaman from the Deaddrop caves who had eluded them (and who they were sure had traveled to this location), they cleared out many goblins and hobgoblins, as well as other creatures quite successfully.  They also garnered a good sum of coins and gems, as well as some useful items.

Sadly for the group, you can only fight so many goblins before you experience what Portwert the Moneychanger calls a diminished rate of return.  At some point, the going is going to get tougher, and the rough-and-tumblers are either going to have to get going or get gone back to civilization to lay down their arms.  Adventuring is not a pretty business.  New challenges await the group as they are poised to explore the third level of the complex.  They are aware it is a more extensive crypt and that the undead are going to abound in great numbers.  They've seen what can happen to large parties of adventurers who get spread out and don't watch their six, nor their three, nor their nine.  They know they can't get the dead raised if no one is left to transport the bodies to the raisers.  While they might be less worried about a single death, or even two, they now have to be concerned about the risk of a Total Party Kill.  Not that I am rooting against them, of course, but sometimes the dice aren't in anyone's control.  And a sandbox is no sandbox if it doesn't let the dice fall where they may . . .

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice

They've dropped episode two of Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice!  In case you haven't watched it yet, here's episodes one and two . . .

Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice: A Royal Roleplaying Adventure (Episode 1)

Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice: Episode 2- The Party Gathers

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Crusaders, Vikings, and Birds

Knocked off a few boardgames in the last couple of weeks, though I have been less than diligent in my camera duties, let alone blogging about them.  The store hours at Lake Geneva Games have expanded, we've hired and are training two additional staffers (so far), and a new MtG set dropped.  Dare I say I have had a fairly full plate lately.  Nevertheless, after months of trying to arrange a game of Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (2018) the LG lunchtime gamers managed to get it to the table.  I was thoroughly trounced due to a disjointed strategy that garnered a steady stream of victory points during play but left me wanting for end-game points.

Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga (2004) has been around a while but was recently acquired and three of us put it to the test last week.  We played incorrectly but in such a way that we all, more or less, equally benefited from the error.  Essentially we were all taking additional actions each turn which, surprisingly, slowed down play rather than speeding it up.  We even removed the cards they suggest you set aside in games for beginners.

Wingspan (2019) is something Mark M. just got hold of, a slightly dented box copy which he lucked into getting, considering this game is seemingly hard to track down for less than double it's MSRP.  We had to truncate our game due to time considerations but got through about 80% of a full game and none of us had played before, so we all needed to learn it.  Rodney's How to Play video on it helped me out tremendously, as he always does.

I found all three of these games enjoyable and will play any of them again, if given the opportunity.  I think Crusaders can be played much faster than we did but we'll see.  Fire & Axe might need a closer look next time as I am not really sure how much playing it correctly will change the game.  I think the additional cards will make it a lot more competitive.  Wingspan works just fine as is but feels a bit like a race with little interaction between players, except when an action allows all players to benefit.  There's a bit of blocking other players when choosing dice but it didn't seem too egregious.  We'll see!