Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Modern Marvels Session 3 - Enter Hercules!

We had a chance to get a game together but not all of our Pathfinder crew was available so we settled on ... Marvel Heroic! I ran it as a continuation of our previous games which you can see here:

Yes, it has been a couple of years since we last played. I wasn't going to let that stop me - the boys are still interested, I have notes/recaps, and I'm making more of an effort to finish things I start 

With Paladin Steve joining the campaign he was going to need a character and I had one in mind as soon as the option to play Marvel came up - Hercules! He's brash, he's bold, he's unquestionably a good guy, and while his usual approach is to punch things he almost lives like he's playing in a big game - I knew my friend would have a good time playing him and that he would add a lot to the team. Steve took him on with no hesitation.

Apprentice Blaster continued with Black Panther while Apprentice Who continued with Colossus.

In a cut scene, Zeus summons Hercules then tells him that foolish mortals are monkeying around with the Serpent Crown again and it's time to intervene. "Go and get it before they hurt themselves or do something even more foolish" is the gist of the conversation. Herc is more than ready to help!

Emerging from a mystical gate hidden deep in a cave the prince of power isn't exactly sure where to go but the closest landmark to him is a large structure best described as an ice fortress. Closing in on it he notices two flamboyantly dressed men also approaching the place and decides to introduce himself as only the mighty Hercules can!

A brief but loud conversation (complete with backslaps and strong handshakes and promises of shared drinks later) ends up with Herc's new friends "Black Panther" and "Colossus" agreeing to investigate the ice fortress as they too seek the Serpent Crown.

Seeing no obvious entrance Hercules challenges Colossus to a contest - "Let us smash our way through this ice" - basically the first one to something interesting, like an interior room, wins.

This is one of the reasons I love Marvel Heroic's milestone system - it directly ties XP into character traits like this in a really fun way.

Swinging away, the two mighty-thewed heroes bash a tunnel into the ice and The Mighty Hercules is just mightier enough that he smashes into a large open cavern/room first! Black Panther follows at some distance, mostly trying to stay clear of flying ice chunks. Emerging from the tunnel, they see a large ice/stone room with a throne-like seat. A man sits upon the throne:

He has long, shaggy hair, an equally unkempt beard, a yellow costume, and a blue cape. When he shifts in the chair, they see an S upon his chest. They have no idea who this is. Warily, they approach.

"I do not know who you are or why you have disturbed my solitude but go now and you may leave in peace. I wish to remain alone, not to fight, but I will fight if I must."

  • Hercules is confused - he doesn't really understand brooding
  • Black Panther is interested but wants to know who this guy is before getting too involved
  • Colossus is concerned and breaks out the armchair psychology

Colossus only gets so far before the multiple mentions of the "terrible things I've done" starts to get in the way of further conversation. Befuddled, Peter pauses ...

...and Hercules takes over! Falling back on what he knows best Herc touts the virtues of wine and song and comradeship and beating badguys and good times and drink and winning in general. Faced with this unstoppable torrent of optimism, the stranger's "... almost godlike assurance that he’s guilty" is overwhelmed by Hercules Godlike Positivity!

He stands, brushed the hair out of his face, walks over to Herc, smiles, and puts a hand on his shoulder: "Perhaps you are right old friend. Perhaps I have forgotten how good life can truly be. Perhaps it is time I returned to the world. Thank you." With that, he flies straight up and out of the room into the sunlit sky.

Hercules is extremely pleased with himself. Panther still wants to know who that was. Colossus wants to know what he meant by "old friend". Still pondering, they head for the large skull-shaped mountain in the distance, certain that their goal lies there.

At the foot of the mountain they find a village - a primitive village. As the heroes approach, a group of inhabitants gather. Many have obvious mutations. A four-armed giant of a man moves to the fore and points back the way the party came - "go".

Hercules asks for the ancient custom of hospitality. "Go".

Herc asks again. "Go".

Sensing trouble, Panther fades into the nearby foliage.

Annoyed, Hercules announces/lectures that it is customary for villagers to welcome travelers with food and drink. "Go".

As the last straw breaks, Herc punches the village champion. The mob gasps! Panther moves out of the bushes and into the village, leaping to the top of a hut.

Wrong heroes, but you get the idea
Then Colossus punches Hercules and a huge brawl erupts!

  • The big mutate drops, flattened in one punch by the mighty Hercules
  • The mob charges the mighty Hercules
  • Hercules grabs his jaw - "so that's it, eh?" and slugs Colossus back
  • A sniffing sound at the base of his hut causes Panther to leap into action against a particularly animal-like mutate
  • One mutate with an oddly shaped head tries to mess with the King of Wakanda's mind
Hercules versus Colossus quickly becomes Herc versus Colossus versus the mob as the two titans beat on each other without regard for the swarm of bodies around them. Colossus feels Hercules struck without provocation while Herc feels that the villager was rude and insulting and so the punch was completely justified. over the next few minutes they agree to disagree and to handle the mob together and they quickly bash the primitive brutes into submission.

Panther's leap from the rooftops dispatches his wolflike opponent in one move. Feeling himself under mental attack he picks out the mental mutate and the "Peerless Strategist" faces off with a "Super-Genius". It ends a minute later with Panther reversing a surprisingly strong attack and knocking out the mentalist.

As the heroes gather together Herc is hit by a psychic attack - it wasn't just the one mentalist! Seeing a woman peering from the door of a hut Herc throws a rock at her, cursing her interference! Panther joins in and throws a rock and insults her as well. Somewhat reluctantly, Colossus does the same thing and the woman runs out of the village, crying out in fear and shame.

The heroes pause to catch their breath.

Then Hercules punches Colossus, and the heroic contest resumes. Panther watches silently, arms folded, tapping his foot. Herc eventually wins using some Greco-Roman wrestling tricks Peter had never seen before. It ends with a handshake, much backslapping, and promises of drinks together.

The skull mountain awaits ...


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

40K Friday (Tuesday edition): Year of the Eldar

A year ago I was adding Eldar units and agonizing over how to paint them up. That never really went away as anytime I started looking at my options I vacillated on having a small Iyanden ally force alongside a scheme of my own devising or combining the whole thing into one. This (among other things) kept me from getting much done with it last year and then the new codex came out and confused things even more, so I worked on Chaos Marines instead.

By December I was looking at the Eldar again, re-reading the new codex, researching details online and it finally hit me: It was really a bad idea to have two Eldar forces of my own plus Apprentice Blaster's Eldar army all taking shape in the same house. Blaster decided to go Saim-Hann when he started his army a couple of years ago so he was going to need more jetbikes. I decided to go with Iyanden since I already had some painted units for it and I like the wraith part of the army a lot anyway. Going with known craftworlds gives us the option of picking up the occasional painted unit which is a handy thing when you own more than one army.

Army scheme settled, I went through my units, handed over several of them to Blaster to fill out his force, and decided to give him a boost by painting up one of the jetbike units.

Bikes almost done, riders in progress

He was pretty happy when he got a hold of them and started painting up a second squad in almost the same scheme.  We got a lot of painting done in the last two weeks and I think this helped jumpstart it for both of us.

Once he took over I focused on what would become the core of my (finally!) settled army: A wraith host formation! That's a Spiritseer, a wraithlord, a wraithknight, and 3 units of wraithguard/wraithblades. I already had all the units - I just needed to build and paint them.

Wraith Heads Wraith Heads ...
I spent most of my time on the wraithguard as I had 15 of them and they were going to take the most time and effort. I also finished up the wraithlord as he had been partially built and painted some time ago. The spiritseer is "started" and the wraithknight is partially built but not painted as of this posting.

Build-wise I went with one unit of axes & shields, one with D-cannons, and one with D-scythes. I can see uses for each and I wanted to give myself all of the options instead of doubling up on one choice.  The wraithlord has dual scatter lasers as I am not running jetbikes and I haven't built my war walkers yet.

The current plan for the rest of the army is an aspect host featuring 3 units of dark reapers, a CAD with Farseers, rangers, and dire avengers, and two units of swooping hawks in there somewhere too. A falcon carrying fire dragons is an (already painted) option. I also plan to add in 3 Vypers and the aforementioned war walkers. Dark Eldar allies with an Archon leading a raider-borne squad of warriors are likely to make regular appearances too.

The basic theory is that the d-scythes deep strike via allied Dark Eldar Archon with webway portal, the D-cannons travel in a wave serpent and the axes march up the field with the wraithlord. The wraithknight takes the center of the field and destroys whatever needs destroying first. The reapers and rangers form a sort of gunline aided by the farseers while the swoops pounce on vehicles/flyers. Vypers/walkers provide mobile, if fragile, fire support.

The army does lack hand to hand units so I plan to build the wraithknight with sword and shield. It's mobile, durable, effective, and it looks great!

I would also like some stronger anti-air but between the Reapers, the Swooping Hawks, and a multitude of scatter lasers I am hoping that I have enough for now.

Almost done!
So that's the new approach. Once the wraith units are done the Reapers and the Swooping Hawks are next on the painting table. I expect the whole force will take a little while but I don't think it should take the whole year. I'm aiming for a month or two and then we will see what's left. Down the road I will probably add enough guardians to build that formation as well but it's not a high priority for now.

The last thing I needed to really bring it together was a theme - well, a theme beyond "lots of wraith units". Then I started thinking that we have a technologically advanced race whose homeworlds were destroyed in a catastrophe fleeing in an enormous spaceship and gritting their teeth at every casualty but refusing to surrender to the enemy or give up to the cruel fate of the universe... I believe Farseer Adama will be making an appearance on the tabletop.

You can hear the theme music now can't you?

 So the plan is to focus on these guys exclusively for now, both painting them (to get them done) and playing them (to get good at it). That will likely mean some Eldar-on-Eldar conflicts as Blaster is all over his force too. Red's Necrons should give us a change of pace now and then and a few months down the road I am sure I will be ready to throw one of my marine forces out on the table too. For now though, it's all about the Eldar.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Looking Forward to 2016

A little late but better now than never ...

Gaming-wise in general, my take on 2016 is "try to keep what I have going, improve it, and work in something new when I can."

When it comes to RPG's the main game is Pathfinder and I expect that to continue. We can do a lot better than the number of times we met in 2015 and that's the main goal. I have a good group, we have a pair of good campaigns - let's play them more!

Beyond that I would still like to do more Savage Worlds and lord knows I have enough stuff for it. Everyone loves it when we play it, but it never seems to gather quite enough momentum to take hold as a "main game". I'd say Deadlands is at the top of the list, with Slipstream as a possible dark horse candidate and various homebrew adaptations of things potentially in the mix as well. I love Necessary Evil but I'd like to spend more time at the "normal" level of Savage Worlds before going to Epic again with superpowered heroes or villains.

Superheroes will be in the mix somewhere, whether we continue with Marvel Heroic or continue with Mutants and Masterminds. Both are a lot of fun with even a small group of players and I've come up with campaign material that can be played out in short chapters that fit into a night's typical playing time for us. They make for good fill-in games when some of us have time but the whole Pathfinder party is not available.

Goal for the year: Run something in FATE, at least one session. I have some nifty books, some cool dice, and I like a lot of the concepts with the system.

Ever-optimistic hope for the year: At least two players say "Can we play some Star Wars/Star Trek" - there are usually one or two who might be up for it but not often at the same time. Given that word of a new Star Wars movie this last year and next this year and a new Trek movie this year completely failed to generate interest in an RPG or miniatures or boardgames I expect this will take a while. Regardless, I have systems. I have ideas. One of these days I will run a sustained campaign of one or even both but I suspect it will have to be a sudden development and not something planned months in advance. Or I will have to go online and play with people I do not actually know. Fingers crossed!

Miniatures-wise I expect this to be the year of the Eldar as Apprentice Red rediscovered his Necrons causing Blaster and I got serious about building and painting and playing our Eldar armies in December. More on that in another post. I expect 40K to dominate our miniatures time and I am fine with that - I like the current edition and we will be playing it for quite a while.

Beyond that I'd like to find time and money for Bolt Action, and I will probably dust off Epic at some point to work in another round of city-scale mayhem. As much as I like X-Wing and Attack Wing I'm not going to put much into them until the Apprentices show more interest.

Optional Victory Condition: Dropship Commander is close enough to Epic though that I might finally take the plunge sometime this year.

Boardgames and card games come and go with us - if it catches fire we play it a bunch for a month or two then it drops off for a while. The most fun is when the whole family gets interested but that's fairly rare. I don't have any big plans here but hopefully we will play some more of what we already have. A rule I've stumbled into the last few years in this area is to stop buying expansions for games we don't play - either sit tight or at most go buy a new game and see if it takes off instead.

Future Stuff

  • Still no third-party license for D&D 5th edition ... maybe this year?
  • Still no Freedom City for M&M 3rd Edition ... surely this year?
  • My interest in the upcoming Pathfinder Adventure paths is dwindling. I'll probably stay with it through the "evil" campaign just out of curiosity but it's going to have to have more than just that to really interest me. The one after that is the Cthulu AP and I'm probably out at that point until something I like shows up in the coming attractions file. 
  • Rifts for Savage Worlds is still probably at the top of my radar. Hopefully it's really good.
  • There's a Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG supposed to be Kickstarting sometime in 2016 -  I'm always interested in a Superhero RPG and there are some good people involved in this one so I'll be keeping a hopeful eye on it.