Monday, January 31, 2011

The new HeroClix figures and a confession

The Happy Whisk asked me to post some pictures of my new HeroClix figures.  Here they are in all their glory:

As you can see, Magneto now has his head attached.  Don't know if that will survive the first game we use him in (or even transport to that game if it's not here at my house) but we'll see.

Magneto is the Experienced (blue ring) version from Infinity Challenge.
Dr. Doom is the Experienced version from Clobberin' Time.
Mr. Fantastic is the Veteran (red ring) version from Clobberin' Time.
Superman is the Unique (bronze ring) version from Hypertime.
Batman is the Veteran version from Hypertime.
Wonder Woman is from the new DC 75th anniversary set (no ring).

I hadn't bought any new Clix games for some years, and I hadn't kept up with any rules changes or the like, so I was a bit surprised to see that Wonder Woman came with a card with a unique ability just for her, meaning you'd need to keep the card handy for reference during play.

The card is useful in that it lists what powers she has and why.  But having to manage a bunch of cards as well as a bunch of figures could get bothersome in play, I'd imagine.  It would also make set-up take longer, as you'd not only have to figure out which characters you want to go together, but then you'd have to find both the figure and the card for each of them.  "Where's that Blue Beetle Rookie card?"

And finally, my confession.  When I was into comics heavily (my college days), I rarely read anything DC.  I was a Marvel fanboy, one of those guys picking up multiple X-books every month, along with some other Marvel and indie comics.  But I never followed any DC books.  I'd read copies friends had purchased, but I wasn't buying them.

So most of my knowledge of DC characters comes from movies and TV.  When people mention "post-Crisis" characters, I know they're referring to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I have no idea what changed.  When I mentioned the other day that Bats and Supes were friends, I had the Super Friends cartoon firmly in mind. 

Sorry, DC fans.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shinobi Sunday!


So, I said back at the end of December there'd be more ninja on WaHNtHaC.  This is a new, possibly weekly (we'll see how busy I get) feature, that ties in with my old Oriental Accents series--Shinobi Sunday!  (Ninja Nichiyoubi! in Japanese)

Starting off, here's the cover to one of my favorite games on the Playstation 1, Tenchu.

Being in Japan at the time, I of course had the Japanese version.  It was a fun game which rewarded exploration, cleverness, and patience, rather than just button-smashing violence (like another PS2 series I enjoyed, the Shin-Sangoku Muso (Dynasty Warriors) series).  Sorta like Old School D&D.

And it really helped me with improving my Japanese, too.  I wanted to know the storyline, so I'd play the levels over and over again to try and catch things I missed in the cut-scenes.  And learning all the kanji (Chinese characters) for things I wouldn't need to use in everyday life, but were useful for gaming (both video and tabletop) was fun, too.

Now, I'm regretting selling my PS1, PS2, and all my games when I left Japan.  Oh well, when my son's older and we can play this sort of game together, I'll see about reacquiring some of them.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Breath Weapon Damage (again)

I've blogged before about the discrepancy in the rules of various TSR versions of D&D dealing with dragon's breath weapons.

Do they do the dragon's full hit points at all times?  Do they decrease with damage taken?  Moldvay/Mentzer/RC are clear that it's the dragon's current hit points.  OD&D, Holmes and AD&D don't necessarily say one way or the other, but they read to strongly imply max damage.

Anyway, I finally finished up my new verse translation of Beowulf today (it sat on the shelf for quite a while) and in the battle with the dragon, there were two passages that caught my attention:

To assist his kinsman, that man in mail
aimed not for the head but lunged at the belly
of their vile enemy (in so doing his hand
was badly burnt); his sword, gleaming and adorned,
sank in up to the hilt and at once the flames
began to abate.

The 'man in mail' referenced above being Wiglaf.

Each time I slashed at that deadly enemy,
he was a little weaker, the flames leaped
less fiercely from his jaws.

Wiglaf recounting the battle to the cowards.

Quotes from the verse translation by Kevin Crossley-Holland (c) 1999.

If the Beowulf author says I'm doing it right, I'm doing it right.

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's nice to get things in the mail

...even if I ordered them myself.

Two weeks ago, after our HeroClix game, I placed an order for more figures with  They arrived yesterday.

So now I've got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Magneto, and Dr. Doom to add to my collection.

Only problem was that Magneto's head had fallen off in transit. 

I tried to stick it on with some superglue yesterday, but the glue wasn't sticking for some reason (bottle's almost empty, could be the chemicals are too old or something...). 

Anyway, I didn't have time to really do anything else yesterday, so this morning I used a silicone glue stick to hold the head in place, then put superglue around the silicone 'neck' to hopefully seal it. 

I may just have to resign myself to using a zombie Magneto in my future games, but we'll see.  :D

Also, I'm going to need to up the point value of the teams to get the Fantastic 4 on the field.  Mr. Fantastic is expensive!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Assumptions in RPG designs about challenge and competency

Last night I ran into Dave at the Starbucks in Seomyeon.  After he introduced me to his buddies and they peeked over my shoulder at my netbook and I explained what I was doing (working on Flying Swordsmen RPG actually), Dave and I started talking shop.

Mainly we were discussing the way that 3E to some extent, and 4E to a great extent, are written as if the DM is a moron.  For example, the monster write-ups in 4E give tactics and advice for exactly how to use each monster.  Modules include the rules again in them to remind you during play.  Every mechanic, whenever possible, is boiled down to a 'universal mechanic' so you don't need to remember anything.

Maybe we were over-reacting, but it definitely is something that's there.

I don't think it's so much an Old School vs. New School thing, it's more of a marketing thing.  Yesterday I was reading a thread on Dragonsfoot about how every Basic Set TSR put out was more dumbed down than the last.  And can anyone seriously believe that a 500+ page RPG like Pathfinder is an easy read?

But there's an assumption in more modern RPGs that the DM can't, or at least won't, learn all the rules.  Or be able to figure out how to use a monster. 

We focus a lot on the challenge given to players in RPGs.  It may also be time to think about the challenge to the GM. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two heads are better than one

and of course three heads are better still!
There's a nice little synergy going on the past couple days thanks to N. Wright and Talysman.  Our ideas about heroes and anti-heroes, saving the world or just getting along in it, and high fantasy, low fantasy, and epic fantasy have resulted in Talysman coming up with a great way to view fantasy works relative to the heroes contrasted by the world in which they live.

Pretty cool.

But what's it all supposed to mean?  In the immortal words of Pee Wee Herman, "Supposed to mean?  Supposed to mean?  I...DON'T...KNOW!!!"

Anyway, check out The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms and Lawful Indifferent.  I've been getting a lot of great comments to my posts.  These guys deserve some good comments, too.  "Tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!"

And speaking of knights...

Why don't we see more jousting in D&D?

Mentzer's set had the nice tournament jousting rules, which we used to good effect back in the day.  But I don't see much love going to the lance in most games. 

Sure, in a dungeon it's impractical to bring along a war horse.  But goblins mounted on dire wolves with lances would make for a tough and memorable encounter, I'd bet.

In the wilderness, though, I'd expect more players to equip their fighter types with lances, and use them.  But I rarely do.  Why?  In Classic (Mentzer/RC, or Moldvay with variable weapon damage in play) lances do 2d8 damage on a charge (if, like me, you embrace the 3E idea of 'double damage' doubling the dice rolled, not simply multiplying the single die's result).  That's a fair amount of damage, if that charge attack hits.

I have used jousting/lance combat in games before.  In the first 3E game I ran with the Toyama group, I was basing many events on Malory and the Mabinogion, so there were a few places where NPC knights would challenge the party to a joust.  The players seemed to like it, but they never initiated a joust of their own.

Is this just something about the people I've been playing with?  Or is it also common in other groups?  Where's the love for the lance?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Whatever happened to knights in shining armor?

N. Wright at Lawful Indifferent has a piece up about preferring anti-heroes to heroes, and adventures to 'saving the world.'

I agree that 'save the world' plots in RPGs get old quick.  They're fine every now and then, for HIGH LEVEL PLAY.  But so many GMs I see or read about want the whole damn campaign to be about this great quest with the goal of saving the world, a la LotR/Dragonlance/whatever Final Fantasy game they've just played.

When it comes to the adventure, I'm really more interested in the episodic, picaresque, motivated by personal self-interest type things.  Like REH stories, or Lieber, or your typical B movie plot.

HOWEVER, I do enjoy having characters that are more like Galahad, Luke Skywalker, or the Lone Ranger in the mix.  If everyone's an anti-hero I'm less interested in things.  And in my personal gaming experience in the past 10 years or so, I don't see many characters like this (even when someone's playing the Paladin).

Now, I'm not saying I think a party of all stand-up, dependable, honorable characters would be best.  It might be fun for a while, but having a mix of characters in the group is where there's the most fun. 

Compatible, but sometimes at odds.  That's fun.  And more dramatic.

Luke and Han don't always see eye to eye, but they are friends and can work together.  Same with Batman and Superman. 

You need a few heroes out there to make the anti-heroes meaningful.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Play by Post idea for a Megadungeon

I've mentioned before that I'm one of the players in the online play by post Megadungeon game being run by David of Tower of the Archmage

I've had plenty of experience with PbP games in the past, both as a player and as a DM.  One thing I've learned about them is that because they go slow, they tend not to last long.  Lots of people just can't hold their attention to the story that long.  So as posts slow down because everyone's waiting for that one person to post, others start to lose interest, too.

This is not a slight on David in the least.  I'm enjoying the game he's running, even if it is slow going (and Renee has apparently stopped checking the site and is instead having her husband Rick surrogate post for her).  Even though we've just barely begun to explore the place, we've already had a memorable encounter and seen enough to make us curious about the place.  I'm at least eager to keep going with it.

But the pace is slow.

I was thinking that if I ever run a PbP game again, I'd likely limit it to just myself as DM and one player.  Maybe two if I knew they would both post often.  I get the feeling that that sort of game would progress a lot faster.  And I'd have no worries about that one player actually running an entire party.  Heck, back in the old days, we often played with just two of us, one DMing (and bringing a few of his own PCs along for the ride) and the other playing several of his characters.  We had a lot of fun that way.

So no big revelations here, nothing ground-breaking.  Just me thinking out loud that if I ever start running my Megadungeon online, I'd likely just try to recruit one player to play through it.  That way, we'd never really have to wait for posts.  As soon as I post something, the player will be able to post.  And as soon as the player posts, I'd be able to post a response.  No need to wait to give everyone a shot to give some input, then waiting extra long just in case they might feel like giving some later.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Did WotC fart or something?

About the big to-do around the blogs this past week.

Since WotC pulled their pdfs, I'm no longer giving them any of my money.

If I were in the States with easy access to second-hand WotC minis, I'd likely have picked up plenty, but I'm not, so I didn't.  Still not giving any of my money directly to WotC if I had.  And since they're discontinuing the minis line, I won't be giving them any of my money that way in the future.

If I play any of WotC's RPGs (and yes, I did have fun playing Gamma World the other day, thank you very much) friends have bought the rules, not me.

I'm playing D&D, but the version I purchased 26 years ago (plus my own house rules, of course). 

I've always been pretty good about putting together gaming groups, or getting into ones that already existed.

So all the speculation about WotC D&D dying, or Pathfinder taking over as the 800lb. gorilla (not playing that one, either), being good for the hobby, being bad for the hobby, being good for the industry, being bad for the industry, whatever, doesn't really affect me one way or the other.

The only thing keeping me from gaming at the moment are time constraints.  And so I don't waste any time worrying about the 'health' of the industry, or moves by the big corporations in it.  I may have some opinions about what they do, and ideas for what I'd like them to do.  But the goings-on within the industry give me no reason to lose any sleep, or gnash my teeth, or anything like that.

I'm a selfish gamer, but as long as my personal gaming is good, that's all that matters to me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another way to look at Clerics

Note I.—Hedge-Priests.

It is curious to observe, that in every state of society, some sort of ghostly consolation is provided for the members of the community, though assembled for purposes diametrically opposite to religion. A gang of beggars have their Patrico, and the banditti of the Apennines have among them persons acting as monks and priests, by whom they are confessed, and who perform mass before them. Unquestionably, such reverend persons, in such a society, must accommodate their manners and their morals to the community in which they live; and if they can occasionally obtain a degree of reverence for their supposed spiritual gifts, are, on most occasions, loaded with unmerciful ridicule, as possessing a character inconsistent with all around them.
Hence the fighting parson in the old play of Sir John Oldcastle, and the famous friar of Robin Hood's band. Nor were such characters ideal. There exists a monition of the Bishop of Durham against irregular churchmen of this class, who associated themselves with Border robbers, and desecrated the holiest offices of the priestly function, by celebrating them for the benefit of thieves, robbers, and murderers, amongst ruins and in caverns of the earth, without regard to canonical form, and with torn and dirty attire, and maimed rites, altogether improper for the occasion.

From Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm a Winner! And a PSA (not the G.I. Joe kind)

Well, over at The Missing Word blog, I've been given a Versatile Blogger Award!  Thanks to M.J.A. Ware for bestowing it upon me! 

This means I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself, and pass the award on to seven bloggers I think deserve some honorable mention.  So here goes:

1. I received the Frank Mentzer edited Basic Dungeons & Dragons red box for my 11th birthday in 1984.  I still have, and use, the dice that came with it.

2. I lived in Japan for just slightly under 10 years, and I've been in Korea 3 years and counting.  I can speak Japanese.  I can't really speak Korean.

3. I'm currently working on a screenplay that is a samurai ghost story.

4. I attended the University of Evansville, where I studied Creative Writing.

5. I'm going to begin work on my Masters of TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) this March.

6. My first dog was a dalmatian named Pongo.  We don't currently have any pets.

7. I can cook fairly decently, but my wife is so awesome in the kitchen that I rarely do anymore.

Alright, now it's time to give the Award to some of my fellow bloggers.  These awards are brought to you by the Friends of Starship Warden.  As most of you likely know, game designer Jim Ward, who designed Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, and quite a few other games, is ill.  The disease is treatable, but it's expensive.  If you've ever played a game designed by Jim, based on something he designed, read one of his books, etc. please click on the link and donate whatever you can.  [Josh, thanks for the reminder for me to post this!]

And now, my seven picks for Versatile Blogger Awards! (in no particular order)

Once More Unto the Breach, DRANCE's blog about his journey back into RPGs, and whatever else crosses his mind.  I get inspired and excited by things I read here, as it's fairly different from my own gaming journey over the years.

Back in '81 is Yoyorobbo's gaming blog.  He shares my passion for random small, cheap plastic fantasy miniatures for use in the game.

Countdown to Game Time is Bigby's Left Hand's blog.  It's about games, fiction, comics, and providing groovy stuff to enhance your game.

Dangerous Brian: A Gamer's Blog is obviously by Dangerous Brian.  He's currently doing a series on survival guides for low level characters which are well worth the read, even if you know it already.  Never hurts to brush up on basics.

Errant RPG is Greg Christopher's home of his retro-clone and related stuff.  I've found him to be articulate, creative, and generally thought provoking in his posts.

The Caffeinated Symposium is my real world buddy Dave Cesarano's blog.  He goes on about mostly literature, history, and gaming.  Coffee not included with the price of admission.

The Red Box Blog is The Red DM's blog.  This is one of the newer blogs I'm really digging, especially because The Red DM plays and enjoys all versions of D&D.  He's got a recent series of posts saying just what it is he enjoys about each version, too.  Good stuff, and it's nice to see the mix of older and newer games getting some love in the same place.


Wow, it's taken me two days to pick my winners.  I've got lots of great blogs on my blog roll, so it sorry if you didn't get picked.  Congrats to the winners!  Feel free to snag that snazzy graphic up at the top of the page and pass on the award to other blogs you enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Yesterday, Joe and his wife So Young, and Dave came over.  While my wife and Joe's talked and my son ran around in his superman shirt, we guys played a round of HeroClix.

Joe hadn't played before, so it took him a little time to get used to the rules, but he caught on fast.  I still had the 300 point 'teams' I'd made for use at the Board Game Group sometime last year, so we each selected a team.  I was the Hulk and some low level weenies (cause just the Hulk is 200+ points).  Dave was the Judge Dread team.  Joe was the Fantastic 4 + Spider-Man*.

We used one of the scenarios in the Marvel rulebook.  There's an artifact on the map, and whoever holds it at the end of 10 turns is the winner.

Joe got to go first, and he instantly sent Spidey and Invisible Woman toward the artifact, The Thing towards me, and Human Torch towards Dave.

I sent in most of my guys towards the Thing, but a couple of the weenies towards Dave, too.

Dave picks off Joe's Medic and Boom Boom (my team) with his ranged attacks.  The Thing can't make any rolls, so is stuck pounding on my Dreadnaught (who also can't hit back).  Spidey comes to help The Thing, as the Hulk gets near and my sniper is trying to pick off Spiderman (because it can't damage the Thing if it wants too!).  Invisible Woman just sits on the artifact.

Judge Dread and Johnny Alpha take out the Human Torch, and my weenie medic and Shield Soldier take out Dave's Saurian Trooper.  The Hulk takes out Spider-Man, while The Thing still keeps whiffing against my Dreadnaught.  Invisible Woman finally starts to run away with the artifact, and the Judge Dread team and Hulk give chase, but she manages to elude us until the clock runs down.

Joe was the winner!  Fun game, and he's interested in playing it again sometime.  After that we had dinner, and thought we'd play a round of Puerto Rico, but we spent too much time talking and by the time we'd just gotten into the game, So Young interrupted and said they had to leave, because she has to work early today. 

My son, last Halloween
It was a fun afternoon/evening, and I'm glad that we've got enough people in board games now that we can have multiple 'events' going on.  Pat, Alex, Steve and some new people had also played games on Saturday.

*Don't have a Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards figure, so Spidey got put in instead.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rethinking 2E Character Kits

Just a few random thoughts I had that I'd like to get down.  I've been having another busy week, so not much blogging.  I figured in lieu of an actual post, I'd jot these ideas down here instead of on some scrap paper like I normally would.

Kits--give a small bonus, and a small penalty, to a character class in order to distinguish them from all the other members of that class.

Ideas for Magic-Users:
"Sorcerer" Bonus: No spell book.  All spells are known, and may be prepared as desired.  Penalty: No more spells known than castable per day (as btb in Moldvay), no automatic Read Magic, can't use scrolls to gain new spells.

"Witch" Bonus:  Access to select Cleric spells as well as M-U spells.  Penalty: Severe magic item restrictions (still thinking which ones)

"Magus" Bonus: Bonus spells per day for high Int bonus.  Penalty: Spells in spellbook determined randomly.

Ideas for Fighters:
"Archer" Bonus: Dex bonus to hit and damage with ranged weapons.  Penalty: Str and Dex as Prime Requisite.

"Berserker" Bonus: +2 damage in melee against humaniods.  Penalty: Save vs. Spells (each round) to avoid attacking allies when enemies defeated.

Just a couple ideas, like I said.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mutants, gadgets, and dreams

In my dream last night, I was re-writing D&D magic item tables to be Gamma World technology items. 

I was also wondering why in Gamma World 4th edition (the original from TSR), the four character classes were: Enforcer, Scout, Esper and Examiner.  If they'd used Explorer instead of Scout, it would have been better.

Anyway, I was thinking it's time to finally download Mutant Future and give it a look.  Don't know why I haven't yet...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vacation's Over--Back to Work!

Since I didn't get any other time to work on gaming stuff (other than a few blog posts) over the past week, I pulled out the Megadungeon last night and wrote up descriptions for 30 or so of the rooms on the 1st level.  Now it's about 1/5 keyed.

And now I'm sitting here at work, wishing I had another week off so I could get it finished.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

With Your Shield, or On It

This is a little addendum to Trollsmyth's awesome "Shields shall be Splintered" houserule.

When fleeing from an encounter (evasion rules as per Classic D&D), a character may discard their shield in order to automatically evade the pursuer.

No, I haven't playtested this yet.  Yes, it could be powerful at low levels.  Yes, it's unfair to those that don't use shields (but then the M-U's and Thieves are likely faster than the Clerics, Fighters and Demi-Humans anyway).

But if your group happens to run into a specter when you're only level 2, or your plan to surprise the sleeping dragon goes pear shaped, this will allow you to get away easily and live to fight another day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em

then he bummed a cigarette, asked me for a light
So some people have their panties in a bind about WotC finally trying to do what they do best with the D&D line--sell kids collectible cards.

Why not?  It worked with their minis line.  Sell people on random blind packs of minis for their games, or to play the table-top minis game they came out with.  According to some anecdotal evidence, they made more money off minis than they did off of splatbooks in the mid- to late oughts.

They've made piles of cash with Magic and Pokemon card games.  Why not tie it into their premier RPG?

I'm not playing 4E, and don't plan to ever pick up the books, so why should I be upset that they're 'making the game into something else?'  They've already done that.  That's kind of the point of making a new edition to them.  Remake the game the way they want it, rather than just retread the past.  It's a valid way to view things, even if it's one I don't think is necessary (along with most of the rest of the OSR types).

I'm sitting here wondering, though, if maybe something like a card mechanic might be fun.  I've got several thousand Magic cards sitting in my closet.  They could easily be used for something of the sort.  Maybe not all of them, but enough of them could be used to provide some temporary bonuses and the like in an RPG. 

And I've already shucked out plenty of money for them, so no need to invest in further cards.

Or I could just use the GIMP and make my own...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ah, Technology!

Have a map

I'm too busy to post anything silly or serious today.  So here's a map.

This is a map of Europe I made back when I was in Japan.  I intended to use it for a 'mythic Earth' campaign but never did.  I've hand-written a little note at the bottom that says '1 hex=54 miles.'  I had traced the map from an atlas I had, and the scale of the map was roughly that.

It's not as nice or as detailed (or as accurate) as something you'd get from Alexis, but if anyone wants to use it, here it is.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Goals for the New Year

I'm on vacation this week, which means (as it often does) that I have LESS free time than when I'm working.  My wife is always there with a "you're not going to work today, let's do this..." when I'm on vacation.  Koreans really need to learn how to just take a day and relax.

But I digress.

This year, as I think I mentioned, I'm going to start work on my Masters in March, in addition to my full-time job and private tutoring on the side.  So posts to the blog will likely become pretty scarce.

I'm also going to have a lot less time for RPG gaming, and related writing.  So here are the goals I'm shooting for this year:

  • Get Presidents of the Apocalypse in a semi-presentable form before March.
  • finish up the work I need to do on my screenplay before the end of the year.
  • Keep posting to the blog at least twice a week on weekdays and once on the weekends.
  • Flying Swordsmen will have to stay on the backburner.  Maybe I can finish it in 2012 before the Mayans return and blast us from their Deathstar pyramids.
  • My video game monster book, if I get around to it, will likely become a group collaboration thing with me as editor, instead of me doing all the writing/thinking on it.  I'll keep you posted if I need some help on that.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The New Gamma World (play review)

This afternoon, Josh, Pat and Alex came over and we tried out the newest version of Gamma World.

Quick capsule review: It was fun, but...

More detailed review?  Oh, all right.

First off, character creation was not quite as simple as it could have been, but that's mostly because Josh hadn't had time to really digest the rules, we only had the one rulebook to share among us, and we didn't always just want to assume that things worked the way they do in 4E D&D (mostly they do, but that assumption was correct).

As you've likely already read about the game, you start out by rolling a d20 twice for your primary and secondary 'type.'  This determines one of the six ability scores to be an 18, another is a 16, and you roll 3d6 in order for the rest.  The types also give you some special traits, and your starting powers.

Everyone gets a 'standard gear' set (backpack, rope, rations, canteen, etc.), and gets 2-5 other random pieces of equipment, which may or may not be useful.  Then you select what type of armor you want (light or heavy, with or without shield), and one melee and one ranged weapon.

I'll take a little time out to say here that they basically just list a few types of weapon, rather than going through a whole involved list where lots of choices will be similar anyway.  You can pick a light one handed melee weapon, a light two handed melee weapon, a heavy one handed melee weapon, or a heavy two handed melee weapon.  Similar with ranged weapons, but ranged allow for 'weapon' and 'gun' where guns have better range (and for the heavy set, better damage as well), but if used more than once in an encounter they run out of ammo until ammo can be found again.  I'm not sure if that's really necessary, as the guns didn't seem to be so much better than the other weapons, but maybe in a longer term campaign they would be?

Anyway, back to character creation--You get two skills at a bonus (+4), then roll a d10 for one more skill which is just at your ability score bonus.  You get 12+Con score hit points, and AC plus Fort/Ref/Will defenses, like in 4E.  Everyone starts out drawing an Alpha Power (random mutation), and Omega Tech (crap left over from before) card.  That's about it.

We had some interesting combinations of origins, as you would expect.  My character was a 'seismic' 'doppelganger' which means he's made of rock like The Thing (from the Fantastic 4, not the John Carpenter film), and can pull doubles of himself out of alternate realities to help him.  Since he had a draft horse, pickup truck (but no gas), keel boat, and my starting Omega Tech card was a laser-firing robot dog that would occasionally attack me, I decided my character was Chesney McRocten, a Country Western singer.

Alex and Pat were both playing two characters each so we'd have the suggested 5.  Alex had an 'empath' 'plant' named Willow Whinderwhisperrainbowpolyandryhappenstancedottir III, a nordic hippy who was sort of a healer/controller type.  His other PC was Click Click Hiss, a 'rat swarm' 'cockroach' so in other words, just a big swarm of cockroaches, meaning he was mobile and hard to kill, with damaging vomit.

Pat was playing Bob Glowy, a 'radioactive' 'speedster' who, as you might guess, could move around quickly, and blast people with radiation eyes.  His second character was Raxalphian Smith, a 'mind breaker' 'telekinetic' or in other words our Jean Grey minus the boobs (at least I think it was supposed to be a guy).

It took us longer than expected to make these guys, but if a) we'd all played more 4E, and b) we had had a second copy of the rule book, things would have gone a lot faster, I think.

We played through the first three encounters of the starter adventure that came in the rule book. 


You've been warned. 

After a bit of railroad trying not to look like a railroad (do you want to press on to the ruins, or just go home?) we get to the ruined tower that is a known Badder stronghold and is now sending out robots after a group of Archivists headed into the ruins a short while back. [Hearing this made me think, "OK, this is Gamma World!"]

Outside the ruined tower are some guards--two Badders and two Porkers (orcs/gammorean guards).  They tell us to bug off, we decide to kill them.  And they went down pretty fast.  I was getting good mileage out of my Doppelganger ability.  I could make a copy of myself (minus alpha and omega powers) appear within 5 squares, who could then take a turn.  So I could move, create a double, have it move if necessary, then have it attack with my heavy two handed melee weapon (2d8+5 damage!).  It then lingered until the end of my next turn, so it could also soak up hits or just get in the way/provide flanking bonuses.  I was effectively using my melee attacks at range.

Pat provided a bit of entertainment in the first battle by switching minds with one of the Badders.  It left us with a bit of a problem, as the Badder-mind was then using the esper's body to attack the radioactive Flash.  But it all got sorted out in the end.

Inside the tower, there were some more Badders and a Yexil.  This was a bit tougher fight, but we got through it relatively unscathed.  The Yexil could do some damage, and the cockroach was hurt, but we managed to take it down.  We were a little beat up, so we decided to take the 'extended rest' and get our health back.

Finally we ventured down the stairs.  Some more Badders took pot shots at us (I took a little damage, but my rock body provided damage reduction) then fled into a larger chamber.  We followed, but made a tactical error.  Pat's psion had drawn a 'nasty stench' Alpha power for this encounter, which meant we all had to stay at least 2 squares away from him or be hindered.  Also, the Badders (a couple of whom had psychic powers) were in a room with a machine that damaged us but healed them.

We bungle things pretty badly by having Pat's stinker last in marching order, but then he wanted to get up and into the fight to cause trouble for the Badders, by getting our lines spread out, and by not attacking the machine to shut it down.  We ended up with a near TPK.  My guy was the last one standing, and since I had no way to revive the others, a few hit points, and 4 Badders and the machine still to deal with, I 'pulled a dwarf' and fled, as Josh had done in Pat's 4E game when he didn't like how things were going.

It was nearly time for Josh to leave and meet his wife by then anyway, so even if we had won, that's about as far as we'd have gotten.

As far as the rules go, from what I saw and experienced of it, they're not as fiddly as 4E seemed, but they're also not as well presented/organized.  It also seems like several of the cards we drew were poorly edited.  It was often unclear if some powers were one shot and done, or if they lasted for the encounter.  Josh even read us a bit in the rulebook, saying if you know 4E, this will be easier to understand because it's a cut down version.  In other words, for people who don't really know 4E like us, it was pretty vague in many places.

The game is also not a cakewalk the way 4E was designed to be, either (yes, I know 4E combats can be difficult too, but it's set up for the players to win).  With Alpha Powers constantly changing, and Omega Tech unstable and potentially used up at the end of an encounter, you can't count on knowing what you'll bring to the table in each encounter.

Anyway, this is getting pretty long (what, you said you wanted a more detailed review!).  I'll sum up.

We had a good time
Randomness in character generation/power cards
Gamma World feel (wild and wahoo is how I always played it anyway)
streamlined 4E rules

Poor presentation of rules
4E ruleset, to me (YES, my opinion), is too tactical and predefined

I don't know that I'd actually buy this for myself, but I'd definitely play it again.  And I wouldn't mind playing in a longer campaign too, just to see how things scale.

Ringing in the New Year

A little late in posting this, I know, but it's been a busy couple of days (and we didn't even go to any parties).  Here's how things have shaped up on the first full calendar year that I've been doing WaHNtHaC.

[I installed the Google Analytics tracker on April 1st, all data related to hits/sources misses out on the first 3 months of the year.]

13,478 visits to the blog between April 1 and Dec. 31.

As I stated a few days ago, Google hits have drawn lots of ninja fans my way, so quite a large percentage of traffic to the site is just people looking for ninja stuff (or a picture) and then clicking away.  But here are the top 10 threads on my blog:
1. Oriental Accents: Ninja Week 996 hits
2. Clash of the Titans Movie Review 131
3. How to Tackle a Megadungeon 126
4. Game On 97
5. Tackling the Megadungeon: Scouting 93
6. Zero Sum Gaming 92
6. Luddites vs. Amish 92
8. "Do you want to live forever?" Immortality in Game 91
9. What to do when you're not in combat 87
9. WOTC really needs to get their numbers straight 87

For how people are finding my blog:
2936 hits came from Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess
2125 hits came from Jeff's Game Blog
1637 hits came here directly
1368 hits were Blogger referrals
647 hits were from Google

The big keyword leading people to my site was, surprise surprise,

Next were the name of the blog in various incarnations
'movie title' + horrible was fairly popular as well, if I'd reviewed the movie
A few interesting ones were "sexy pirate," "m john harrison," "curse client not working," "do you light of lord?," "ode to gibberlings," "origin of Porkins," and my favorite (gotta get in contact with these guys, I could make some money!): "the secret sect of gwidion."

OK, the final bit of Google Analytics data--where are all of you coming from?

No surprise, 8,521 hits were from the USA.
929 from Canada
825 from the UK
776 from South Korea (many by me, obviously)
363 from Japan
296 from Australia
251 from Germany
194 from Italy
186 from Finland
113 from Austria

Posts that got lots of comments included:
Adventure idea that would never work (9)
Social Interaction Rules and the Dick DM (10)
Luddites vs. Amish (10)
Maybe the sky falling is a good thing (9)
What to do when you're not in combat? (9)
Here we go again? (9)
Endless Quest books (11)
These sorts of characters ARE viable (10)

Next, my free downloads:
Castle Mistamere Extension 104 downloads
Great Dungeon Random Encounter Charts 80 downloads
The Derelict 32 downloads
Under the Hillfort Ruins notes 40 downloads
Unique Magic Armors and Shields 41 downloads
Unique Magic Wands, Staves and Rods 47 downloads
Unique Magic Weapons 100 downloads

Finally, I'm up to 89 Followers.  That's pretty impressive.  I don't remember how many I had last January, but I think it was only around 12 or 15.  It's been a good year here for me.  Thanks to you guys.