Archive for gaming

Tabletop Thursday – The City of Death

Posted in Tabletop Thursday with tags , , , , on May 7, 2009 by hergeek

Since we’ve been deeply entrenched in our D&D game, our tabletop minis games have been neglected even more than ever.  And quite frankly, we miss setting up cool looking terrain and pushing figures around the tabletop.  So after some deep discussions with my fellow grognards over snifters of Pepsi and bowls of Doritos, we decided to make the first Monday of every month “Minis Monday.”  

Next was picking out a game.  We love the idea of connected games, making a campaign of some sort, but to be successful with those, almost as much work needs to go into them as with creating and running an RPG.  So after a lot of discussion, we settled on breaking out our Mordheimwarbands, and trying out an extended Mordheim campaign.  This had a lot of things going for it. 

  • We had the minis already painted up
  • We had lots of terrain for it
  • Games were short, usually no more than 1.5 hours, so with some good time management we could get in a couple of games a night
  • It had a built in simple campaign system that needed no prep time or refereeing


Sides were decided, with me taking the Sisters of Sigmar (warrior priestesses with big ass hammers!), another player taking Witch Hunters (puritanical heretic burning fanatics), a third taking Skaven (giant bi-pedal mutated rats), and a fourth taking Reiklanders (Germanic warriors with big swords).

Our first game was run Monday night.  Through the luck of the draw, we had Witch Hunters vs. Skaven for the first game, and the scenario they rolled up was  “Breakthrough”, or as I now like to call it, “The Skaven Player Did Not Read the Scenario Rules.” The Skaven player, as the defender,  was supposed to keep the Witch Hunter player from getting 2 of his figures to within 2 inches of the Skaven’s end of the board.  Simple enough, let the carnage begin!

The ruined buildings were all set up, and then the Witch Hunter spread his wardband out across the board. The Skaven player bunched his warband up on the right side. I looked at the Witch Hunter player, shrugged, and said OK.   The game started, and the Witch Hunter player sprinted five of his figures down the left side of the board, while the entire Skaven warband went after a small detachment of hunters.  The Skaven player watched, confused, as fully half of the witch hunter force was ignoring him.  As the Witch hunters came within about a foot of his end of the board he asked, “Am I missing something?”  The Witch Hunter player and I just laughed and flipped open the scenario for him to read again.  Next turn, the Witch Hunter hounds loped to an easy victory, with only 1 casualty taken from both sides.

So, it wasn’t exactly an auspicious start to our campaign, but it was a funny one!  I’m going to try and take pictures of future games to post up here as I look for something to write about document the campaign.


Fashion Friday – Gaming Attire

Posted in Fashion Friday with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by hergeek

(I can’t wait for GWP to get back.  This is three Fashion Fridays in a row, and I’m WAY out over my skis.)

Every Monday, GWP and I have a variant on the same conversation.  It goes something like this:

GWP:  So what are you doing tonight?
Me:   It’s Monday, so it’s D&D night.
GWP:  Are you going to wear a costume?  [followed by a giggle]
Me:   [dryly] Um…no.
GWP:  Aw…

Every Monday, the same thing.  See, she has this vision of me sitting down to the table to play in some kind of wizard robes and hat.  And every Monday, I have to dash her hopes, and tell her that I’m just going to be wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and remind her that I don’t wear, and have never worn, a costume while gaming.

But that’s not strictly true…

One sunny day, I happend to be walking through my fair city and I wandered by a hat shop.  In the window, they had a sign: 


Bowlers and derbies 50% off?  I don’t have a bowler or a derby!  I always wanted a bowler or a derby!  Every man needs a bowler or a derby!  I am so there!  I entered the store, but I did not hold out much hope, because I have a ginormus head, and I can never find hats to fit it.  And besides, I’m sure the best bowlers and derbies were all taken.  I was gladly mistaken though, because 10 minutes later I left the store with a nice $20 felt derby.

Why would a man need a derby, you may ask?  Well, easy costuming for Halloween parties for one.  Add a threadbare suit and I’m  Stan Laurel (or Oliver Hardy, if I keep having ice cream dates with GWP.)  Add a little moustache to that , and I’m Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp.  Add a nice suit and an umbrella and a British accent and I’m John Steed.  Add a white shirt, pants, suspenders, a codpiece, some eyeliner and some boots and I’m  one of the droogs from A Clockwork Orange. 





But shortly after I got my derby, I started wearing it while I was GMing games of Space:1889.  After the first session, my buddy Tommy, playing Bruce, an Australian cowboy, started wearing an Aussie slouch hat.  My wife, playing a wild west show sharpshooter, went and got an old beat-up cowboy hat and would wear that when we play.  But the topper (pun intended) was when Stuart, playing a wealthy British upper crust snob, showed up at a session wearing a top hat.  And we soon started using these hats to indicate when we were “in character.”  It was a really fun prop to add to the game.

So, there you go, GWP.  A bit of costuming in our games.  And no, I’m not going to wear a costume next Monday!

We-View Wednesday: Dungeon Delve

Posted in We-view Wednesday with tags , , , on March 4, 2009 by hergeek


I’ll get right down to it.  I’m a lazy GM.  Between family and work and TV shows that I must watch (BBT, Chuck, BSG, Lost, Top Gear…you get the picture) I don’t have the time to create epic adventures for my players any longer.  I find myself having to rely on pre-packaged scenarios and campaigns for my games.  A little bit of reading, a little bit of tweaking, and with no more than a half hour prep I’m able to run my friends and family through an evening of hacking, slashing, blasting and general mayhem.

When I went out to Amazon to pre-order the Players Handbook 2 I found something called “Dungeon Delve” being recommended to me as well.  Quick look at the description…

“Dungeon Delve(TM) is designed for groups looking for an exciting night of monster-slaying without the prep time. It contains dozens of self-contained easy-to-run mini-dungeons, or “delves,” each one crafted for a few hours of game-play.”


So the supplement arrived yesterday, and I had a chance to sit down and read through the beginning of the book, and look at the first few adventures.

What you will find inside of this book is exactly what it says above:  A bunch of self-contained mini-adventures that can be set up and run at a moment’s notice.  There is a single adventure for each of the levels from 1-30, and each adventure typical runs the space of about 3 encounters.  The adventures are pre-populated with bad guys, and they provide the stat blocks for each creature, as well as an index as to where you can find them in the rulebooks if you need more details.  You also will have a series of “hooks” for you to use to try and integrate the adventure into your existing campaign, as well as information on tactics, enviromental effects, and treasure.  They don’t seed any magic items into the treasure, instead they give you the option of providing a magic item of an appropriate level.

One thing that I really like about this product is that they also provide you with information on which Dungeon Tiles set you can use to re-create the maps they provide.  I have a complete set of Dungeon Tiles, but I rarely use them because it is difficult to figure out which ones I need to pull out to create the maps for my players.

My one gripe, and it is a gripe I’ve had with all of these new D&D 4E books, is that if they encounter the least bit of humidity, the paper stock gets the waves.  I had to send a book back to Amazon because it was delivered on a rainy day and it looked like someone had dropped it into a bucket of water and let it dry out.

All in all, a highly recommended product, especially for the lazy or unprepared GM (like me!)  This one rates 4 Crits from me, and I’m sure will get a lot of use.


Timewaster Tuesday (not) – Girls and Video Games

Posted in Timewaster Tuesday with tags , , on March 3, 2009 by thegeekwearsprada

Why is it that girls are not video game players?

As an educator, I often watch groups of boys and groups of girls and listen as they talk. The boys talk about music, movies, sports, games and more specifically video games and the girls talk about the same things but rarely mention video games. I often wonder, why at the same age do girls not talk about video games. I believe that it comes down to the fact that the gaming industry in the United States does not focus on the 50% of the female population because many of the gaming techs who make the games are male. How can they possibly know how to make a game geared toward the opposite set. Also when the gaming industry asks, “Why do girls not play video games?” the answer is “Girls don’t play video games.” It is a vicious circle and will only change by changing the games and getting more females to design games targeted at girls/females.

I will go into this further at another time but until then you may want to watch this video from 1998, where Brenda Laurel asks: Why are all the top-selling videogames aimed at little boys? She spent two years researching the world of girls (and shares amazing interviews and photos) to create a game that girls would love.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Brenda Laurel on making games for gir…“, posted with vodpod

Tabletop Thursday – The Superstitions of Dice

Posted in Tabletop Thursday with tags , , , , on February 26, 2009 by hergeek

If a statistician hands you a die insisting that “any given roll has the same odds of rolling a one or a twenty”, it means he’s handing you a depleted die in the hopes of taking advantage of you. Don’t fall for it! – Shamus Young, Twenty Sided Tales

Gamers are a superstitious, cowardly lot.  And nowhere does this hold true more than with their dice, their precious, precious dice.  You know that die.  It’s the one that you bought that had the pretty metallic colors on it.  And the first time you picked it up and rolled it, it rolled a 20.  Once you find a die that you like, you horde it, you care for it, you caress it and call it “My precious”.  You keep it in a special bag, away from the other dice, and only break it out when you really need to roll high.

And the reverse holds true as well.  remember the time that you absolutely, positively had to roll high to make you saving throw vs. dragon breath, and you rolled a 1, of course?  That die was instantly banished, called unlucky, and would never be rolled again.

And what about the DM that constantly seems to be rolling very high numbers?  Is he cheating behind his screen, or are his dice VERY lucky?  I mean, he can’t get that many criticals in a single encounter, can he?

The statistican in us will say that it is all poppycock.  Rolling a D20 should always result in a 1 in 20 chance of a given number coming up every time.  Blowing on it, pre-rolling the 1’s out of it, always making sure that it is sitting with the 20 facing up…none of these should make a difference. 

But maybe…just maybe…some dice ARE luckier than others.

In the attached video clip, Col. Lou Zocchi of Gamesciencegives an explanation about how dice are made.  He explains how many manufacturers of dice take the dice and dip them in buckets of paint to fill in the numbers, and then put them in rock tumblers to get the paint off the surface of the dice.  The process of the is tumbling leaves you with a very pretty, shiny , but ultimately imperfectly shaped die, as the tumbling also rounds the corners and takes some of the surface off of the dice.  When the shape of the die is changed, it will have a predilection to settle on the longer surface, and thus not give you an evenly distributed set of numbers.

Now,  he is in the business of selling his “precision dice”, so of course his are going to be better.  And he’s pretty long winded in the clip.  But I found it an interesting theory as to why some dice will roll higher results than others.

(But I’m keeping my dice.  Cause they’re purdy.)

We-View Wednesday – Litko Aerosystems D&D 4E counters

Posted in We-view Wednesday with tags , , , , on February 25, 2009 by hergeek

With the new release of 4th Edition D&D, there suddenly became a lot of thing to keep track of on the map grid.  Characters and monsters became stunned, surprised, marked, bloodied, dominated, dazzled, cursed, poisoned, etc. all the time.  Through the course of a battle it became hard to keep track of what had happened to who and when.

Enter Litko Aerosystems and Jim’s Labto the rescue!  I had looked at the high-quality laser cut counters and bases they provided for quite a while, but I never had a game system to apply them to.  I contacted Jim at Litko and just dropped the idea in his head that some status markers for the new D&D system would be nice to have.  He responded “Funny.  I had the same idea,” and about an hour later he had prototype markers up in his Jim’s Lab section of the site.


And here we had a philosophical parting of ways.  Litko makes their markers out of high quality plastic, laser cut and etched.  They are really, really nice markers.  But he made them 1″ square markers, and I really wanted 1″ round markers.

See, it’s all about aesthetics.  I like the look of a well managed battle scene.  I am constantly having to remind my players to pick up their dice and pencils and square their characters on the battle grid.  So I was wanting this nice little round marker that would not have edges sticking out from under the 1″ bases of the character…just a band of color under the figure that would remind me “OK, he’s poisoned, you need to make a saving throw at the end of your turn.”

So Jim and I got into a little discussion about the aesthetics of the markers, and in the end, he won.  (Hey, it’s his company…)  However, he is nice enough to do custom orders, so if I wanted a custom order with round markers, he’ll do one for me (at a slight increase in cost.)  So I placed my order for the Dungeon Master’s Set…but please make them round!

They eventually showed up this week (along with some mini-red skull tokens to mark bloodied figures) and I was not disappointed at all.  They fit perfectly under the figures, and the little red tokens are excellent for keeping track of the bloodied figures.  In hindsight, I should have also got a set of grey skull tokens to mark cursed figures.  The warlock in our party tosses around curses like beads at a Mardi Gras parade.


Where's Captain America when you need him?

I would really recommend if you are a 4E player that you check out the full line up of effect tokens they have come up with.  (And get round ones.  They’re way prettier!)  Or, even if you aren’t playing 4E, but have some other game that you like pretty tokens for, you really should check out his site.  He has some really nice things on there.  I’ve been eyeing his flight stands for Wings of War for a while now.

I’m giving the Litko 4E DM’s token set and mini red skulls 4 out of 5 crits.  I’m docking them one crit because it did take a considerable time for them to get the custom tokens to me, and they should have been round by default, dammit!


Tabletop Thursday – Painting Prussians

Posted in Tabletop Thursday with tags , , , on February 5, 2009 by hergeek

They stood there in a line.  10 of them, all mocking me with their greyness and their itty-bitty details.  The drummer with his drum.  The grizzled veteran with his itty-bitty pipe [GWP Note: ahhh that is sad that he has an itty-bitty pipe].  The commander with his cords and belt.  I looked, and despaired.

I haven’t put sable to pewter in over five years.  I was daunted by the task in front of me.  I had pulled my painting station out of the storage cubbyhole it was in.  My brushes were all in their stands, ready.  I had found and organized my paints…Games Workshop, Vallejo, Ral Partha.  Many of the pots of paint were dried up and were pitched.  But I had the colors I needed.  Elf Grey.  Dwarf Flesh.  Royal Blue.  Blood Red.  Gunmetal.  Shining Silver.  Burnished Gold.  Black and White.

My pallet was set.  Paper towels at hand.  Cups of water for cleaning.  Uniform guide on the table.  The light was poor, but I set up a couple of goose neck lamps and it was going to be workable.  I turned on the TV, put in a movie that I knew just to have something playing in the background.

And I sat there.  Not wanting to start, because I knew I was going to suck.

But finally, I picked up my standard brush, dropped some Dwarf Flesh into the pallet, followed by a drop of water to thin it.  I grabbed the Prussian with the pipe. Licked the brush to draw it to a fine point, dipped it in the paint, and started with his hands.

Two hours later, I have 10 Prussians with poorly painted hands and faces, and grey pants.

It’s a start…